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Full text of "An Interview with Lalovi Miller"

An Interview With

LALOVI MILLER





An Oral History produced by

Robert D. McCracken





Nye County Town History Project

Nye County, Nevada

Tonopah

2010





Lalovi Miller

2009





COPYRIGHT 2010

Nye County Town History Project

Nye County Commissioners

Tonopah, Nevada

89049





CONTENTS



Preface



Acknowledgments



Introduction



CHAPTER ONE

Lalovi’s birth and her parents; growing up in Moapa; the origins of the Moapa Reservation and the way the community was in Lalovi’s childhood; the way it changed; traditional forms of Southern Paiute medicine and current Indian Health Service care; a story of retaliation; preparing food at Moapa when Lalovi was a girl; Lalovi’s parents and relatives; visiting Pahrump when living in Tecopa; remarks on the Lee family; returning to Moapa from Tecopa.



CHAPTER TWO

The stories of Standing Rock and Potato Woman; why Mount Charleston is bald; work on preserving the Southern Paiute language; auto travel before air conditioning; a discussion of the Salt Song ceremony; traditional Paiute views of the world; remarks on basket-making.



CHAPTER THREE

A guided tour of the Moapa Reservation and Warm Springs, including areas where children played; discussing mesquite beans.



CHAPTER FOUR

On the importance of retaining one’s culture; views concerning good and bad spirits; traditional Southern Paiute territory; learning the Salt Songs; Lalovi’s work as a cultural representative for her tribe, including monitor work on the Nevada Test Site and Yucca Mountain; the relationship between the Moapa group and the Bureau of Indian Affairs; thoughts on Yucca Mountain; the beauty of the desert; experiences of nuclear testing and the residual radiation; Nevada’s water issues; further memories of Pahrump and Shoshone-Tecopa; further history of the Moapa Reservation and thoughts on cultural issues; the importance of family.



INDEX





PREFACE




The Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP) engages in interviewing people who can provide firsthand descriptions of the individuals, events, and places that give history its substance. The products of this research are the tapes of the interviews and their transcriptions.

In themselves, oral history interviews are not history. However, they often contain valuable primary source material, as useful in the process of historiography as the written sources to which historians have customarily turned. Verifying the accuracy of all of the statements made in the course of an interview would require more time and money than the NCTHP’s operating budget permits. The program can vouch that the statements were made, but it cannot attest that they are free of error. Accordingly, oral histories should be read with the same prudence that the reader exercises when consulting government records, newspaper accounts, diaries, and other sources of historical information.

It is the policy of the NCTHP to produce transcripts that are as close to verbatim as possible, but some alteration of the text is generally both unavoidable and desirable. When human speech is captured in print the result can be a morass of tangled syntax, false starts, and incomplete sentences, sometimes verging on incoherence. The type font contains no symbols for the physical gestures and the diverse vocal modulations that are integral parts of communication through speech. Experience shows that totally verbatim transcripts are often largely unreadable and therefore a waste of the resources expended in their production. While keeping alterations to a minimum the NCTHP will, in preparing a text:



a. generally delete false starts, redundancies and the uhs, ahs and other noises with which speech is often sprinkled;



b. occasionally compress language that would be confusing to the reader in unaltered form;



c. rarely shift a portion of a transcript to place it in its proper context;



d. enclose in [brackets] explanatory information or words that were not uttered but have been added to render the text intelligible; and



e. make every effort to correctly spell the names of all individuals and places, recognizing that an occasional word may be misspelled because no authoritative source on its correct spelling was found.





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS




As project director, I would like to express my deep appreciation to those who participated in the Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP). It was an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to obtain oral histories from so many wonderful individuals. I was welcomed into many homes—in many cases as a stranger—and was allowed to share in the recollection of local history. In a number of cases I had the opportunity to interview Nye County residents whom I have long known and admired; these experiences were especially gratifying. I thank the residents throughout Nye County and Nevada—too numerous to mention by name—who provided assistance, information, and photographs. They helped make the successful completion of this project possible.

Appreciation goes to Chairman Joe S. Garcia, Jr., Robert N. “Bobby” Revert, and Patricia S. Mankins, the Nye County commissioners who initiated this project in 1987. Subsequently, Commissioners Richard L. Carver, Dave Hannigan, and Barbara J. Raper provided support. In this current round of interviews, Nye County Commissioners Andrew Borasky, Lorinda Wichman, Joni Eastley, Gary Hollis, and Fely Quitevis provided unyielding support. Stephen T. Bradhurst, Jr., planning consultant for Nye County, gave unwavering support and advocacy of the program within Nye County in its first years. More recently, Darrell Lacy, Director, Nye County Nuclear Waste Repository Project Office, gave his unwavering support. The United States Department of Energy, through Mr. Lacy’s office, provided funds for this round of interviews. Thanks are extended to Commissioners Eastley and Hollis and to Mr. Lacy for their input regarding the conduct of this research and for serving as a sounding board when methodological problems were worked out. These interviews would never have become a reality without the enthusiastic support of the Nye County commissioners and Mr. Lacy.

Jean Charney served as editor and administrative assistant throughout the project; her services have been indispensable. Kimberley Dickey provided considerable assistance in transcribing many of the oral histories; Jean Charney, Julie Lancaster, and Darlene Morse also transcribed a number of interviews. Proofreading, editing, and indexing were provided at various times by Marilyn Anderson, Joni Eastley, Julie Lancaster, Teri Jurgens Lefever, and Darlene Morse. Joni Eastley proofed all the manuscripts and often double-checked, as best as possible, the spelling of people’s names and the names of their children and other relatives. Jeanne Sharp Howerton provided digital services and consultation. Long-time Pahrump resident Harry Ford, founder and director of the Pahrump Valley Museum, served as a consultant throughout the project; his participation was essential. Much deserved thanks are extended to all these persons.

All material for the NCTHP was prepared with the support of the Nye County Nuclear Waste Repository Office, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author and the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nye County or the U.S. DOE.

—Robert D. McCracken

2010





INTRODUCTION




Historians generally consider the year 1890 as the close of the American frontier. By then, most of the western United States had been settled, ranches and farms developed, communities established, and roads and railroads constructed. The mining boomtowns, based on the lure of overnight riches from newly developed lodes, were but a memory.

Although Nevada was granted statehood in 1864, examination of any map of the state from the late 1800s shows that while most of the state was mapped and its geographical features named, a vast region—stretching from Belmont south to the Las Vegas meadows, comprising most of Nye County—remained largely unsettled and unmapped. In 1890, most of southcentral Nevada remained very much a frontier, and it continued to be so for at least another twenty years.

The spectacular mining booms at Tonopah (1900), Goldfield (1902), Rhyolite (1904), Manhattan (1905), and Round Mountain (1906) represent the last major flowering of what might be called the Old West in the United States. Consequently, southcentral Nevada, notably Nye County, remains close to the American frontier; closer, perhaps, than any other region of the American West. In a real sense, a significant part of the frontier can still be found in southcentral Nevada. It exists in the attitudes, values, lifestyles, and memories of area residents. The frontier-like character of the area also is visible in the relatively undisturbed quality of the natural environment, much of it essentially untouched by humans.

A survey of written sources on southcentral Nevada’s history reveals some material from the boomtown period from 1900 to about 1915, but very little on the area after around 1920. The volume of available sources varies from town to town: A fair amount of literature, for instance, can be found covering Tonopah’s first two decades of existence, and the town has had a newspaper continuously since its first year. In contrast, relatively little is known about the early days of Gabbs, Round Mountain, Manhattan, Beatty, Amargosa Valley, and Pahrump. Gabbs’s only newspaper was published intermittently between 1974 and 1976. Round Mountain’s only newspaper, the Round Mountain Nugget, was published between 1906 and 1910. Manhattan had newspaper coverage for most of the years between 1906 and 1922. The Rhyolite Herald, longest surviving of Rhyolite/Bullfrog’s three newspapers, lasted from 1905 to 1912. The Beatty Bullfrog Miner was in business from 1905 to 1906. Amargosa Valley has never had a newspaper. Pahrump’s first newspaper did not appear until 1971. All these communities received only spotty coverage in the newspapers of other communities once their own newspapers folded, although Beatty was served by the Beatty Bulletin, published as part of the Goldfield News between 1947 and 1956. Consequently, most information on the history of southcentral Nevada after 1920 resides in the memories of individuals who are still living.

Aware of Nye County’s close ties to our nation’s frontier past, and recognizing that few written sources on local history are available, especially after about 1920, the Nye County Commissioners initiated the Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP) in 1987. The NCTHP represents an effort to systematically collect and preserve information on the history of Nye County. The centerpiece of the NCTHP is a large set of interviews conducted with individuals who had knowledge of local history. Each interview was recorded, transcribed, and then edited lightly to preserve the language and speech patterns of those interviewed. All oral history interviews have been printed on acid-free paper and bound and archived in Nye County libraries, Special Collections in the Lied Library at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and at other archival sites located throughout Nevada. The interviews vary in length and detail, but together they form a never-before-available composite picture of each community’s life and development. The collection of interviews for each community can be compared to a bouquet: Each flower in the bouquet is unique—some are large, others are small—yet each adds to the total image. In sum, the interviews provide a composite view of community and county history, revealing the flow of life and events for a part of Nevada that has heretofore been largely neglected by historians.

Collection of the oral histories has been accompanied by the assembling of a set of photographs depicting each community’s history. These pictures have been obtained from participants in the oral history interviews and other present and past Nye County residents. In all, more than 700 photos have been collected and carefully identified. Complete sets of the photographs have been archived along with the oral histories.

On the basis of the oral histories as well as existing written sources, histories have been prepared for the major communities in Nye County. These histories have also been archived.

The town history project is one component of a Nye County program to determine the socioeconomic impact of a federal proposal to build and operate a nuclear waste repository in southcentral Nye County. The repository, which would be located inside a mountain (Yucca Mountain), would be the nation’s first, and possibly only, permanent disposal site for high-level radioactive waste. The Nye County Board of County Commissioners initiated the NCTHP in 1987 in order to collect information on the origin, history, traditions and quality of life of Nye County communities that may be impacted by the repository. If the repository is constructed, it will remain a source of interest for a long time and future generations will likely want to know more about the people who once resided at the site. And in the event that government policy changes and a high-level nuclear waste repository is not constructed in Nye County, material compiled by the NCTHP will remain for the use and enjoyment of all.

—RDM

2010





This is Robert McCracken talking to Lalovi Miller at her home in Moapa and on a tour of the area. The first part of the interview and the tour took place on November 28, 2009; the interview was continued on December 2, 2009.





CHAPTER ONE




RM: Lalovi, what is your name as it reads on your birth certificate?



LM: It’s Lalovi Sonya Lee.



RM: And when and where were you born?



LM: I was born in Overton, Nevada, October 14, 1939, in the home of a returned Mormon missionary. That’s how I got my name—it is Samoan. He was bringing it home for his first granddaughter but since I was born in his home, they gave it to me.



RM: Was your mother working there?



LM: No, my mother came home because my dad was working for the CCC. They were up in Kanosh, Utah, so she came home to have me. The little clinic in Overton was full so I ended up in the midwife’s son-in-law’s home and that’s where I was born and that’s how I came to have my name. The midwife’s name was Gertrude Anderson. She put me and my mom in that home. When I was about three months old, my mom went back up into Utah to be with my dad in Kanosh.



RM: Where is Kanosh?



LM: Kanosh is north of Cedar City. There’s a little reservation there.



RM: Is it Paiute?



LM: Yes, one of the bands.



RM: What was your mother’s name and when and where was she born?



LM: My mother was born here in Moapa, probably with a midwife. She was born September 9, 1909, she said. Her name was Verma Chappo. She married my dad in the Episcopal church on the reservation, St. Matthews, which no longer exists.



RM: Right here in this community?



LM: Yes. You can see the environmental building, the little tiny one down there. At that time there was a bigger mound and it was built there. Father Rassen from Las Vegas used to come out and hold services.



RM: Were they Christians?



LM: At the time, we were. I was the third daughter and I have a brother who’s two years younger than I, John Lee; and we have two other older siblings, the sister and the brother that died in infancy. We spent our time here in Moapa with our grandmother Maggie Chappo. My dad worked, like I said, for CCC over in Kanosh, Utah. Then my mom and dad separated so my mom came home to Moapa and we grew up here. My dad went into the service in World War II and then he came back.

At that time the houses were built by the government for the people and they were just like a shell. Some had cellars—the one we had didn’t have a cellar. It had no sheetrock and no insulation and it had the exposed beams. It was two rooms. All of the homes were built that way. When my dad was in the service my mom saved some of her allotment and when he came home he put up sheetrock. At that time, the sheetrock was Celotex and it was kind of nasty. It had to be painted; I remember them painting it. A few houses were built out of railroad ties. They were much nicer than the ones we had, I thought.

My dad worked here on the reservation. This was made a reservation in 1876 by executive order from President Grant. It was nothing but rocks and salt grass. It was supposed to be a two million-acre reservation. Then as (excuse me) the white people came out, they had chased our people out of Moapa Valley. That’s where my grandfather, Indian Chappo, homesteaded.

The area is what we know nowadays as the Yamashita Farms, which no longer exists. The Yamashita story is that they bought the land sight unseen; I guess they were in Southern California somewhere. By that time, we were here and my mom and dad and my grandmother and our granddad and family were given allotted lands. I don’t know how many acres, but they were given all the little farming implements that they had in those times and the horses and whatever else they needed to use. So my dad got a job and helped clear a lot of the land that you see today.

It has changed completely from the time I grew up. We didn’t have indoor plumbing; the water was in a ditch alongside the road. It went down on the south side of the road, then it made a turn and went down to the big trees along the ditch line toward the river. It was a good life. We didn’t have much but we raised our own garden. I had an aunt and an uncle and his family who lived nearby and when my dad was gone they made sure we were well taken care of. Then, I guess in the late ’40s, my dad went to work in the mining over in Tecopa, California.



RM: Do you remember what mine?



LM: At that time it was Anaconda Corporation and he went to work in the mill part. I think I was about eight or nine years old when I went over to stay with him. He had my aunt on his side of the family there and I stayed with them for a while until the rest of my family could come when housing became available. We grew up there for a while but I came back when I was in junior high and we stayed here and I went to school. We were bused down to Overton, the 24 miles.

The homes here hadn’t improved. In the ’60s the Mormon church had come in, the LDS church. I can’t remember the year but one of the branch presidents in the Southwest Indian Mission Reservation was a farmer and a rancher and what not in the valley and he decided that something needed to be done so between him and the church and the Indian Health Service, they put additions onto the homes for indoor plumbing. He supplied his truck to get the lumber from the Kaibab, Arizona, area and they built the little additions. That’s when we got the bathrooms.



RM: A big change! [Laughs]



LM: It was a big change for us and that’s when the Indian Health Services started making sure that we were getting the proper healthcare. Before, it was someone from the county or somewhere who used to come through once a month, making sure we had medication, whatever we needed.



RM: So if he wasn’t coming that week and you had a cold or something, it was just too bad.



LM: Well, we Native Americans have our own medicine that we used. We still use some of the medicine today. We go out and gather some things that we use.



RM: Can you talk about that or is that confidential?



LM: I’d like to keep it confidential. You know Clarabelle Jim, don’t you?



RM: Yes, I interviewed her.



LM: She and her family are my relatives on my dad’s side. She says they’re going to write a book about it. Like I said, we still gather them—I do that with my family; I teach my children.



RM: Can you say what ailments you treat?



LM: Like colds.



RM: Do your cures for colds work?



LM: Well, you’ve got to believe in the medicine, right? Even nowadays you have to believe in the doctors.



RM: That’s right. What else would you treat?



LM: If we had cuts, my grandmother made a poultice out of certain things. We grew up that way until, I would say, in the ’60s when we started getting doctors coming in from the Indian Health Service. They would fly a doctor down from Schurz, Nevada. They’d go to Fallon and rent a five- or six-passenger plane. It would land down at Anderson Dairy—on top, there was a dirt airstrip. Someone would go down and pick him up and he would treat the people.

Then we started getting doctors taking care of us down in Overton at that little clinic. Dr. LaRusso was the first doctor; he was from Pennsylvania. But all of the reports went up to Schurz, and some of us would go to the small Indian hospital up there. If you really needed specialty care they’d take you to Reno.



RM: How would you get to Schurz?



LM: We either went by bus or I remember Social Services down here one time; somebody rode back with him. We started going to doctors in Las Vegas next and Dr. LaRusso moved over there. He was a very good doctor; you could trust him with any kind of ailment. I can remember when I had a gallbladder attack and didn’t know it. I went to him and he asked me why I couldn’t straighten up. I said the pain was so bad and my stomach was bloated. He was writing on a tablet and he said, “I want you to go up to the hospital and go to Admitting.”

I told him “No, I can’t do that right now. I have to wait until the evening for my brother.”

He said, “No, they will call your brother where he works to tell him where you are.” It was a gallbladder attack. I had to stay there for a long time and he said, “We can’t really do anything until the inflammation goes down,” but he came every day to see me. Those were the times when the doctors cared for you. Now you’re just a patient. It’s sad to say that. It’s in and out nowadays, whereas he did thorough examinations and made sure you got your prescriptions.



RM: Do you still have native doctors, or does everybody pretty much have their own native knowledge of medicines?



LM: Well, they weren’t really doctors. Our own parents, like my grandmother, knew what to do so we learned from her what to use. We did have the other kind of doctors, the ones who cast evil spells on us and what not. A family would know something was wrong so they would go to one of the healers and they would come down and do their singing. It was for three nights.



RM: What’s that healing ceremony called?



LM: I just call it the healing event, but people who went through it got healed. I never had to have one but I know one of my nephews did. The neighbor’s father put a spell on him. We didn’t know exactly why, but the medicine man did. He didn’t come right out and say, “The neighbor.” When he was doing his chant and singing, he would describe the person so you knew who it was.



RM: And he could tell spiritually who it was?



LM: Yes, he had the vision and what not, evidently. Children were never allowed in there when he was doing the ceremony for him.



RM: And it lasted three days?



LM: Every night for three nights in a row. It was sad, because one of them finally took revenge on someone because they believed he was the one who took the life of his daughter. He burned the man’s house down. It was a windy night and we were staying with my aunt and uncle in the next house over. There were only five families that had electricity and my uncle was one of them. Before my mom could turn on the lights—my brother had a cold and he was crying and what not, so she was getting up to give him some medicine—she realized the house was already lit up. She looked out of the window and the house next door was on fire. She took care of my brother and she made one of us run over to the house and wake my uncle up. He called the sheriff but there was nothing they could do because the north wind had come and it was fully in flames when he got here. They couldn’t save the house or person; it was sad.



RM: And it was a retaliation for putting on the curse?



LM: He had put the curse on another person and the person retaliated.



RM: How many families were living here around that time, would you say?



LM: I think there were about 20 at that time. The homes weren’t close together like they are now; my mom and dad’s house was right across from the administration building here. And between my mom and my aunt and uncle’s, on the side of the road there, he had his animals—milk cows, chickens, pigs, and horses. I was one of the younger ones so I didn’t do many of the chores, but my sister talks about going to gather the eggs and giving the animals the feed. And like I said, the water ran right by so the animals could water themselves. I could never learn to drink milk straight from a cow. Since there were just two, they milked them by hand. I can remember them making butter from the cream.



RM: Could the family drink milk?



LM: Yes.



RM: I know that a lot of Indian people get diarrhea from milk.



LM: We used it; I think they pasteurized in on the stove. I had to wait until it was cold. And it was hot; we didn’t get refrigeration until the ’60s. My uncle had a big garden. In the morning after breakfast, some of us had to go down to the garden and pick some things that my grandmother or my aunt or my mom needed to prepare meals with. And around September, they’d start preparing food for winter use. I can remember my cousin had an uncle, Charlie Steve. He would build a fire and have the water going and the women would go down there. One would stay at the house and prepare meals but the other two would be down there with him and they would shuck the corn and cook it in a big tub over an open flame. Once it was done, they would put it in different bowls. Then the job was to take it off the cob. Once they got buckets full, Charlie Steve would put it out on a big tarp in rows. He stayed there all day until it was ready, drying it for later use. Once it was dry, they would put it in bags and hang them up on the rafters in the homes for winter use. Same way with the meat—they made jerky.



RM: What were they jerking?



LM: Sometimes beef and sometimes deer.



RM: Where were you getting the deer?



LM: They would go hunting.



RM: Which mountains?



LM: From Moapa, we would go up toward Utah, mostly toward the Pioche area and in between. Two or three families would go up from here. They’d take some of their produce from the garden and some from Cedar—because we’re all interrelated, the Southern Paiute. They would take up what produce they had. The first kill was shared with all the people who were there. The second or third deer was for your own use. My sister said Grandma used to make jerky there. She’d dry it out on the sagebrush or whatever brush she could find.



RM: How long did it take it to dry?



LM: I think it took about three days but during the time that they were there, they’d be picking pine nuts. The families would pick them and they’d take them to the store and sell them and use the money to buy what they needed. I can remember when my dad was in the service we had the little booklets, the stamps. There were certain things that they could buy so between my mom and grandmother, they used those stamps.



RM: What did you say your grandmother’s name was?



LM: My grandmother’s name was Maggie Chappo; I don’t know her maiden name.



RM: And what was your uncle and his wife’s names?



LM: My uncle was Francis Swain and my aunt was Topsy Chappo Swain. She was married before she married Swain. She was married to a Billy Anderson and she had one son with him, Raymond Anderson, but when they separated, my grandmother Maggie took care of him and he lived with us. The boys went into the service.



RM: What was your father’s name?



LM: My father’s name was Bob Lay, L-a-y. How it turned to Lee, I don’t know. His dad, Old Man Bob Lee, was out in Pahrump. I didn’t really know him that well. I knew who he was but we never really spent time with him.



RM: And when and where was your father born?



LM: He was a couple years older than my mom, so ’07, ‘06, around there.



RM: And he was from Moapa?

LM: Yes, but he was registered here under his mom, Minnie Steve, my grandmother on my dad’s side, and she lived in Moapa and Las Vegas. She used to come out here and stay. Then, like I say, we grew up and were in Tecopa and came back. The area where we were in California was part of the Noonday Mine, they call it. That was for Anaconda Corporation. My dad worked in the mill. We lived in close proximity to the mill; I think the mill was about from here to that building, so a couple hundred yards. He walked to work and we were bused down to Tecopa.



RM: So you lived at the mill site?



LM: Yes, they had the homes for the workers. The married families were down by the mill and the single men were up by the mine.



RM: How long did you live in Tecopa?



LM: I think I lived there for five or six years, maybe eight at the most. Then we came home. My two sisters went off to the Indian boarding school in Stewart, Nevada, near Carson. I was the only one in my family that didn’t experience the boarding school.



RM: How did you avoid it?



LM: I guess I was the one that my grandma wanted to keep here; she wanted me to be around. I got to stay home and I went to school in the valley.



RM: What do you recall about the Tecopa area?



LM: I just know that I was there when my dad was working in the mill at the Anaconda mine but I remember going out to Pahrump when my dad would go hunting on weekends. We took side trips. If he didn’t have a baseball game, we’d always go out there and he’d do a little hunting. We’d go to some of the places like Ash Meadows, the springs there. We’d get to swim while he was hunting and naturally, we packed a picnic lunch. It was an all-day affair and sometimes if we went down in the Pahrump area we went to our relatives on his side of the family.





RM: Now, which relatives were they?

LM: There was the Sharp family, the Jims, the Browns. . . .



RM: And how are the Sharps related?



LM: Through my dad. We would make the rounds to the family, stop by and sometimes give them some of whatever he had killed. He hunted rabbits, ducks, quail, whatever was in season.



RM: Was he a pretty good hunter?



LM: Yes.



RM: Now, I’m a little confused on the Bob Lee family. Your grandfather was Bob Lee?



LM: Yes. And he had three or four sons because I think one of my uncles lived down in Santa Maria, California.



RM: And what was his name, do you recall?



LM: I just knew him as R. C. He’d come by every now and then.



RM: Well, one of the Bob Lees named both sons Bob. Is that right? That’s confusing.



LM: Yes. R. C. was one of them and my dad was Robert, too.



RM: So your dad was a Bob Lee, too?



LM: Yes. We’re the original Lees because my mom and dad were legally married. As I say, they were married in the Episcopal church.



RM: So your dad’s father was named Bob Lee? Where did he live?



LM: He lived in Pahrump. The last place I knew he lived was down in the Hidden Hills area, where they had that Cathedral Canyon. He homesteaded that. I can remember going there and it was a beautiful little place. I remember he had gone off and gathered what we call Indian spinach—princess plume. He had them in five-gallon buckets. I don’t know how many of them, but he’d water them from the little springs that he had there.



RM: I wonder where his house was in terms of where they later had a house.



LM: It was down below in the little canyon, near the springs somewhere. I can remember going over there with my dad; we loved the water.



RM: Do you remember when Bob Lee homesteaded that? And what was his wife’s name?



LM: I didn’t know his wife. I do remember R. C. because R. C. used to come to the house when we lived up near the mill.



RM: What was R. C. like?



LM: R. C. worked in Santa Monica and he was married. I don’t know what her full name was but her first name was Lou. He wanted to take my sister Louella and raise her and put her through school down there but she didn’t go.



RM: Whereabouts in the Pahrump area did your dad grow up?



LM: I would say down almost near the Pahrump Ranch somewhere. I really don’t know that area because I learned the most about my maternal side.



RM: And then your granddad’s father was Phi Lee?



LM: Yes. I didn’t learn that until way later on. I just remembered my dad’s aunt, Dora Lee Brown.



RM: So she would have been Bob Lee’s sister?



LM: She could have been.



RM: But Bob Lee, your grandfather, was at Hidden Springs?



LM: Yes, he just homesteaded there because of the springs. That’s the way our people did. Each family, or each clan, I guess you would say, lived by a spring. He was the only one that lived at Hidden Hills that I knew of.



RM: Do you feel a connection to Pahrump?



LM: In a way I do because of my relatives, Clarabelle Jim and the Jim family.



RM: The Jim family are related to the Lees too, aren’t they?



LM: Yes, through my dad; that’s how we’re related to them. Clarabelle tells us that my grandfather’s relatives came from around Tehachapi.



RM: Would that be Phi Lee and his brothers?



LM: Yes. One was named Leander, wasn’t he, and there was another one named Cub. I never knew any of those and I really didn’t ever know my uncle R. C. But I remember my aunt Emma Segundo because she used to come to visit. Emma Segundo was a sister to my grandmother Minnie. They were my dad’s relatives. Emma used to come to Tecopa and stay with us for the summer sometimes. They lived in Banning. She’d bring her two daughters, Clara and Dorothy, and I remember my mom and dad and one or two of us would take them back down to Barstow.

I spent my summers here in Moapa, though. When my dad got a vacation, I’d ask if we were going to go see Grandma Maggie. If they said yes then we’d say “Well, let’s go see them first,” and my younger brother and I would stay here with them while the rest went on with the vacation. We’d stay the whole summer and go back to Tecopa a couple of days before school started.



RM: What did you do after you left Tecopa?



LM: We came back here. My mom came back and worked for the rancher up here at Warm Springs, Francis Taylor, as a housekeeper. He raised Brahma and Charolais cattle. He had a big house and she worked there for almost 11 years. He had a wife named Barbara, his fourth wife.



RM: Where is that ranch?



LM: It’s right up the road. We’ll take a ride up there later on. Like I said, I grew up here. We didn’t have to close our doors or lock the house or anything. Nobody ever broke in. Everything we had we shared with other people, even the gardens. Everybody shared.



RM: So people shared not just with relatives but with others as well?



LM: Yes, with friends, too. And when you’d have visitors, while the elders talked, the younger ones prepared a meal for them. There was always the proper way of doing it. Nowadays, we don’t but I tell my kids about that so my kids do it.

We spent time with our aunt and uncle and he farmed. He grew alfalfa up at the other end and he had a garden along the river. After the older ones did chores, my cousins and my two sisters, we could go play. We would always go up with my uncle and we’d swim in the river because he was nearby. And when he would come down, he would say he had another load coming and some of us would come back down riding on the haystack and some of us would stay there and swim and wait until the second trip, then come home. That’s when people more or less socialized with one another, whereas nowadays we don’t do that.



RM: You don’t socialize now?



LM: No, only during funerals or if the tribe asks us to come together.



RM: So the people are not as closely connected as they used to be?



LM: They were really close. I can remember as a little girl when my brother-in-law’s mother died. They lived up the road a little ways and I remember Grandma saying she was going to go up there after she got the chores done so I went up with her and a lot of other women came in and they took care of that family. One cleaned the house, one cooked, one cleaned the yard, one got the kids ready—they did the things for the family, which you don’t see nowadays.



RM: Why do you think it changed?



LM: I think because of the economy. Women started working and they don’t have the time because of their jobs. If I knew something was going on and I couldn’t be there, I would always prepare something and tell my kids, “You take it down to the family.” Because at least we would feel good that they got something to eat. I said, “That’s the way I was brought up with my family,” and we still do that nowadays. We’ll wait for the official word and then we’ll make a casserole or whatever and take it down. When they have the gathering, if it’s a funeral, we prepare food and take it to the building. Most of the families will prepare for that, but it’s the couple of days before, when they’re doing their business.

When my mom worked, I was young but I knew how to drive and I had my driver’s license. She would tell the family who had had the loss, “If you need transportation, let me know what day you would like to go to Las Vegas and make the arrangements. My daughter will take me to work and she will pick you up and take you. The only thing I ask is that you be back around 4:30 so she can pick me up from work.” My mom was always generous that way.

A lot of the time the people didn’t have anything to wear and my mom would always offer. She said, “My daughter has so many clothes she doesn’t wear. Just ask her and she will give up one of hers.”

It was caring. That was my personal life; that’s how I grew up. I grew up around my grandmother and the older people. I learned a lot of other stuff, like some of the stories about some of the areas.





CHAPTER TWO




RM: What were some of the stories you learned?



LM: I learned the story about Standing Rock and I learned a story about the Potato Woman. I can even show you the area.



RM: Okay, tell the stories and then we’ll go look at the area.



LM: Standing Rock in our language is pronounced timbiwanud, meaning “The Rock is Standing.” Standing Rock is a story from when the earth was covered in water, flood. The dove sat on the top of this one peak and he had his tail feathers down in the water and as the water receded, it took some of the coloring off and that’s why the dove has the white tail. Now is the time for us to tell those stories, in the wintertime.



RM: Oh, you can’t tell them in the summer?



LM: No. Clarabelle tells us that if we tell them out of season the rattlesnake, or a snake, will bite us. She says if you hear the dove cry in the spring, then you have to stop until the fall. You can’t go on with the stories. Some of these stories took one or two nights, depending on the storyteller.

And the Potato Woman story is about the mountain there—I call it a hill. It represents a lady lying down, a pregnant woman. You can see her profile, her chest and breasts and her stomach. She’s the one that we say gave birth to the bighorn sheep. A lot of people don’t know the site. I always tell them, “At a certain time when you come up out of the valley and you look northwest, you can see it perfectly,” because the way the hill is—the contour of it and the coloring—it looks like her hair is flowing.



RM: Is that in the Moapa area?



LM: Yes. When we go see Warm Springs, I’ll show you because we can see it right from here.



RM: Why do you call her Potato Woman?



LM: I never knew that part. All I remember was that she gave birth to the bighorn sheep who we use for our tribal logo. We had a song and dance with it but we don’t do it because evidently nobody learned it. But the area is down in along there. We never did interrupt the people to ask questions when they were telling these stories.



RM: You were saying you’ve got Whistle Mountain and War Mountain.



LM: Yes. War Mountain is where our people went in the past before we were put on reservations. That’s where they had a battle—they always said it was with the Spanish army. We never did know which one is War Mountain and which one is Whistle Mountain. One time one of the ladies from the LDS church called me and said, “Do you know anything about the unearthing of some armor?”

I said, “That probably coincides with the stories my aunt would tell about fighting the army.” My aunt said down near Nevada Power, there’s a road that goes up where they used to dump fly ash. There was a big cave on the hillside and she said they stored their corn there. She told us that going up toward Caliente, along the railroad tracks, above some rocks, on the right side there was a big cave where they had the spears and arrows in big bundles. That cave is no longer visible.



RM: What happened to it?



LM: I think that, throughout time, it got covered by silt. My aunt always talked about it; she said it was a big cave and they had bundles and bundles of spears and arrows.



RM: What other stories do you have?



LM: I know some from the Las Vegas area. Mount Charleston is a special area where some of our creation stories come from. One of our creation stories is that Ocean Woman made the earth. She started a roll in her skin and she made it into a big ball and then she stretched it and stretched it and when it got big enough, she lay down and stretched it with her feet and hands and arms and made the land. Then Coyote was the one to bring the people. He had a basket that had the people in it. He was told to come east.



RM: From Mount Charleston?



LM: Yes. She said, “Don’t look in the basket until there is a sign for you to do it. There will be a time.” But Coyote, being a trickster, stopped and looked in the basket. One of the areas where he stopped, I think, is over in Dry Lake.



RM: Where’s that?



LM: Over along the freeway. They jumped out. And so that’s where our people came from.



RM: All of the Paiutes, or just those in this area?



LM: I think just those in this area because most of Las Vegas comes from Moapa.



RM: What is Ocean Woman’s name in Paiute?



LM: It’s Utsipimama’uts, utsipi meaning “ocean” and mama’uts meaning “woman.” Ocean Woman. I have that story written down.



RM: Did you write it down or do you have a book?



LM: No. When one of the ladies worked at the tribal building in the ’70s and ’80s, she got permission to tell the stories from . . . she was married into the Hanks family from Chemehuevi and she got permission to tell those stories and they’re the same stories that we have.



RM: The people from Chemehuevi are Paiutes, aren’t they?



LM: Yes, we speak the same languages. So she had some of the stories. That’s where the Ocean Woman story came from.





RM: And what is Coyote’s name in Paiute?



LM: Sinaav. The creator is called almost the same—Sinoap.



RM: So they’re different words but they’re close.



LM: Yes, very close.



RM: Okay, sorry to interrupt you.



LM: We have a story on why Mount Charleston is bald.



RM: Okay, why is Mount Charleston bald?



LM: Because in the beginning of the creation, all the animals went to the highest peak and as they were looking for food, the bighorn sheep—he was the last one left up there—went around and around the mountain eating the vegetation. He ate it all down and that’s why it’s bald. That’s the gist of the story. I’ve got that one and a story of why we follow Coyote.



RM: And what’s that one?



LM: Well, like I said, Coyote is always like a trickster. He does things and I guess if you listen to him [laughs] you’re not a very good listener or do things by following him. I’ve got that story and I think I have one for why the North Star stands still.



RM: Why does it stand still?



LM: Because of the Seven Sisters.



RM: And how does that work?



LM: Clarabelle has a better explanation; I just have mine written down. The next time we meet I’ll have those stories out and you can take them if you want to make copies.



RM: Would you be interested in seeing that your stories that aren’t written down get published?



LM: I think we would do that with our language class in Las Vegas. I go to language class every Thursday at 6:00 at the colony on North Main. We’re doing the language so it can be preserved for our people.



RM: That’s wonderful.



LM: When we started going over there we had two other elders; there were about five or six of us who went over. Two of them passed away and one just didn’t want to go. You’re going to interview her.



RM: What’s her name?



LM: Juanita Kinlichinie. She used to go with us. But the other two passed away so that left nobody to go and I said, “I think I’m going to have to continue on until that project is finished,” so I go over there every week.



RM: Are you writing down your language?



LM: We write it phonetically and the new material is being recorded. Once it’s finished we’ll be getting the CDs. A lot of times we’re called in as consultants. We worked on the project for Las Vegas through Kay Fowler of the University of Nevada, Reno. She has the writing of Isabel Kelly, the anthropologist from way back. It was mostly the mountain areas. It had the Indian names and Clarabelle goes on that project and two others go, too. Clarabelle is more of a historian. She remembers the olden times because she lived it. Then we have another gentleman and his wife and my nephew Leland. Leland, being younger, can understand the language and he speaks it a little so we’re the ones who are doing the recording.



RM: So you’re trying to get it written down?



LM: Yes, so it won’t be lost.



RM: Do you have any other Mount Charleston or Pahrump-area stories?



LM: Clarabelle has Pahrump stories. The only story I know about Pahrump . . . there’s a place between Manse and around Kingston Mountain, in the valley, I think mostly near Manse. There’s an area with a round circle that’s all bare. I didn’t really pay attention when my dad was telling the stories. He said, “This is where the animals all got together and were having what we call the Round Dance.” He said they were socializing. The part I didn’t get was who the two animals were, if it was Coyote and Turtle. They kind of argued and after the dance, they no longer communicated with other. Each had their own sounds and they could no longer understand each other. My dad showed us the area. I could never see it from the air—I try to look when I’m flying to or from Reno.



RM: Was it a big area?



LM: Yes, it was a nice, good size and nothing grew on it.



RM: And it’s between Manse and Kingston?



LM: Yes. There’s a little spring down there somewhere, too. I can’t remember the name of the spring but I remember going there. Sometimes after dinner, we’d take a drive up there; my dad would go up and see if he could hunt and what not.



RM: When you were living in Tecopa did you ever go into the Kingston Mountains with your father?



LM: No, if we did we would just drive through. I can remember my dad going up to Kingston and cutting down a Christmas tree for us but I didn’t get to go. And I can remember . . . is it from Kingston that you can go in through Sandy Valley?



RM: Yes.



LM: And then you could get out onto . . . at that time it was 91.



RM: That was the road to L.A.



LM: Yes. When I was little, I remember, we used to go this way and get onto a dirt road that connected with 91.



RM: And 91 did go to Barstow?



LM: Downtown Barstow, yes. I always tell my kids about 91. You'd try to leave as early as you could because in those days cars overheated and you had to stop off the road and wait until it cooled off and took off again. The worst one was going up to Utah Hill. If you didn’t get up over the summit, then you were at the mercy behind these big trucks because 91 was just two lanes, and these trucks would move so slow. You’d dart out to the left to see if it was clear to pass and if not, you’d have to wait your turn.



RM: Where is Utah Hill?



LM: That’s the old road going to old 91 that takes off from Littlefield, Arizona.



RM: What did you think of the heat? You didn’t have air conditioning when you were growing up. How did you deal with that?



LM: That’s why our people would go very early in the morning. They would leave before sunrise and make it over to Mesquite. You went through Riverside, Mesquite, Littlefield, and then on up. By the time you reached Utah Hill it was around 8:30 or so. Like I said, if you made it over the summit, then you were lucky.



RM: In the summers, did you sleep outdoors?



LM: Yes. Everything went outdoors; the beds were put underneath the trees. In those days, it was metal springs and a mattress and we would get up and flip the mattress over, and then in the evening, just unroll it back down. And everything went out from the kitchen. The table legs, I remember, were set in little one-pound coffee cans with water in them so the ants wouldn’t climb up. And we had what we called shade sheds. Like I said, everything was plentiful here for us—the trees and what not. Even the kitchen stove was moved outside.



RM: Was it in the shade?



LM: It was underneath the shed and the tables and benches were underneath.



RM: Was the shade made of brush?



LM: Yes.



RM: Did it have sides?



LM: Some of them had. Some people preferred to put sides on them and some didn’t; it all depended on the families. When burlap was plentiful, they would sew it together and tack it up and then put the willows behind it and put it up. You poured water on the willows and burlap. It stayed cool.



RM: Was there a problem with mosquitoes, sleeping outside?



LM: Yes.



RM: How did you deal with that?



LM: We were lucky; we had netting. Some of us did and some of us didn’t.



RM: Do the Paiute people have something they can put on their skin to keep off the bugs, the mosquitoes?



LM: They do, and my dad used to burn horse manure. The smoke from that would clear the area for a while.



RM: I should mention that your house is overlooking a valley. Does the Muddy River run down that valley?



LM: Yes, right through the middle. When I was growing up, it was clean; that was our swimming pool. We had certain areas we swam in and we never had to worry about the water. Nowadays, you don’t know what’s in there. Sometimes now we get notices saying not to go in there.



RM: And you moved back from Tecopa?



LM: I was about 12 or 13 when we moved back because I went to junior high here. But while we were here, like I said, we would go play. One thing we were told was never to go into the burial caves or pick up any of the artifacts and bring them home.



RM: Were there a lot of artifacts?



LM: Yes, there were quite a few in burial caves.



RM: Did the Paiute bury their dead in caves?



LM: That was the practice for a long time. We were told never to go into caves, never to bring any of the artifacts back even if we saw them.



RM: Can you talk about any of the funeral ceremonies that were practiced or are still practiced, like the Salt Sing?



LM: The Salt Song ceremony is one of our most important ceremonies; we do it for our people who have passed away. In the olden times it was three nights, every night, and the burden fell on the families of the deceased; they fed the people for three days and nights. Nowadays we only do it one night. I don’t know about the men, but if you lost your husband, then you cut your hair shoulder length. I never asked what they did with the hair; I just remember they said you had to cut your hair short. And you wore drab clothes—brown, black, grey. You could be at social gatherings but more or less quietly. You could go to those but you had your year of mourning.

And after the year of mourning, we had another ceremony for the deceased. It’s the same ceremony you do for the burial but afterwards, we burn their belongings. I didn’t experience a time where they destroyed everything, but my mom talked about how they destroyed the house. Whatever the husband had, or the wife had; they burnt the house down and their animals were shot and buried. Whatever a person had, they destroyed it. Nowadays after the ceremony, we have what we call the giveaway. We give out gifts to the people that attend.



RM: This is a year after the Salt ceremony?



LM: Yes. You had that year of mourning and once that year is up, then you had the ceremony and you’re free to live and do things the same as before your loved one died.



RM: Does the Salt Song come first?



LM: The Salt Song and the Bird Song are together. We don’t do the dances like other tribes do. We only do it for the ceremonial purpose. I know they do Bird dancing for competitive social dancing now. I was surprised when I first saw them do that; I said, “Moapa doesn’t do that because we feel it’s part of the sacred ceremonies we do for the dead.”



RM: And what is the ceremony that you observe a year after then called?



LM: Big Time or Yagup, “Cry.” They said it was when your year of mourning was up, then you no longer had to be bound by the year of mourning. It was the same ceremony you did for the burial.



RM: So they had the Salt Song twice?



LM: Yes. The Salt Song is a more sacred one than the Bird Song.



RM: Now, what does the Bird Song do?



LM: The Bird Song had the dance to it; they dance all night long and they had singers who would sing the song.



RM: And is it associated with death, too?



LM: Yes, ours is. But other tribes are now using it for competitive dancing.



RM: So you would have the Salt Songs and the Bird Songs the first time and the second time?



LM: Yes. Our cemetery’s across the road there—the last yellow tree—that’s where we have our burial grounds.



RM: Do you know the songs for the Bird Songs and the Salt Songs?



LM: I’m an apprentice on the Salt Songs. We have a video of it; we use Salt Songs for our sacred ceremonies and we sing them because we want to make sure the person that passed on makes it to the other side. You start in the evening and you’re supposed to end by the time the morning star comes up. The songs tell stories. As they’re singing the songs, the lead singer is supposed to tell where the person is on his journey.



RM: They go on a journey around the area, don’t they?



LM: Yes. It comes from around Parker, then it comes on up and then it makes a loop and goes back down.



RM: And it ends up on Mount Charleston, is that correct?



LM: It goes past through Mount Charleston, back down to where it comes from. It returns back down there.



RM: Somebody told me that at the very end of the night, they send the person over the Milky Way to the other world.



LM: To the other side, yes.



RM: That’s a beautiful concept.



LM: I think it would be hard on some of the people nowadays if they went back to the three nights. We only do it one night. I know at Shivwits, their band does it half a night, then the second night is a full night, and then the burial in the morning.



RM: And then the Bird Song is done at the same time and it’s a separate group of songs? Do you know those songs?



LM: I know some of them, not all of them. The next time you come, I’ll get out the DVD of the songs. The first one tells the story and it’s a nice one because it’s longer. The second one is short. Back when a lot of the kids went to boarding school, if they died at school, they were buried there on the property and they never had the ceremonies.



RM: So you’re having the ceremonies now for them?



LM: We went to the Sherman Boarding School at Riverside, California; we went from 29 Palms, which hosted the meeting. We went over to Riverside to do the ceremony. It was all taped so it’s on a CD. One of the tribes down there had cleaned up the cemetery—put a nice fence around it—and that tribe had bought a gigantic headstone; the kids that they knew of who went to Riverside had their names on it.

Then [a similar ceremony was held at the boarding school at] Stewart five years later. The CD of that one was very short but it’s almost the same ceremony. They do the ceremony right at the gravesite. Some of our people talk about their experience at Stewart.

By the way, we have a lady here who's got cancer. She came home, I guess, over the weekend, and that’s where she’s going to die, from her home. In fact, I was up in Reno at the ITC convention and I got home Friday evening and when I came in my son said, “Mom, so-and-so called and says her aunt’s not doing good. She’s in the hospital.” We went over there but I didn’t get to see her.

The family was coming out and they told me, “It doesn’t look too good. The doctor says they’re going to pull the plug out in the morning around 7:00.” Well, they came to find out it wasn’t that; her lungs were filled with fluid. The other day when we were having our Thanksgiving dinner with our family, they were saying she was home. They said that her wish was to come home. She wanted to die at her house.

I would visit my friend in Mesquite, Nevada, when I had time, with the seniors. The tribe lets the seniors go anywhere they want and sometimes when they’d visit her on a day I could go, I would go. We have another elder up there—Irene Benn. Sometimes she’s sharp as a tack, sometimes . . . we don’t know if it’s Alzheimer’s or not. It’s sad to see people go that way.



RM: How do you see the traditional Paiute view of the world and of life?



LM: Everything we were told was handed down orally, generation to generation. Years ago my mom said, “You know, the destruction is going to come by the white man. There are going to be a lot of changes in the future. It might not be my generation or maybe not even yours. You might see part of it but not all of it.”



RM: You mean the destruction of the Earth?



LM: Of everything. By man. At that time, she singled out the white person, because of the technology that they have, but it could be the environment itself. We revere the earth as our mother because that’s where everything comes from—the water, the land, the air that we breathe. Those are all important to us. We try to tell our kids that we are the stewards of the earth, of our area—the land, the water, the air. Our people lived a simple life when the air was clean, the water was good. Now you can’t tell which is good. I still don’t buy the bottled water, only when I go out on trips. Other than that I say, “I’ll drink the old tap water. So far, it hasn’t done me any harm.” In the olden days the water was clean but now we don’t know what’s coming down the river here because of the homes up in the Warm Springs area.



RM: Is that where they’re going to build the big . . . almost a city up there? How do the people feel about that development over there?



LM: I don’t know what other people feel about it. I feel, in a way, it was wrong, but in a way it’s progress, I guess. Nowadays you can drive to Las Vegas and sometimes you can’t even see the mountain, you can’t see Little Red Rock. As soon as you get to the summit, Apex, you look and sometimes you can see the little red outcroppings and sometimes you can’t.



RM: At Red Rock, in the Vegas Valley?



LM: Yes. There’s a story about that—it’s where the bear was shot over in Sheep Mountain and went across. As he was nearing the red rocks, that’s where the blood dropped off. Then he went on and died over near Potosi. Richard Arnold said there’s a cave that’s visible from the road that looks like the bear—the back half of his body shows. I said, “Well, by the time I’m zooming through there, I forget to look for it.”



RM: When you were growing up, did you make much use of traditional foods?



LM: My grandmother gathered and dried food. I can remember laying big special tarps she had on the roof. She’d dry the fruits there. This was her grinding stone; it was nice and smooth. She gathered salt from the big salt cave that went under Lake Mead. (It might be exposed now because the lake is so low.) I remember she had a real big chunk of salt. She’d cut off a big piece of it and grind it up into a fine powder and use it. To prepare it using the grinding stone, you had to do it at a certain time because of the moisture content.

She was a basket maker too, she and my aunt Topsy. The only one in my family that tried it was my sister Louella, but she did it when she was in renal failure so she never completed her basket. But we gathered the materials; our aunt showed us that.



RM: What plants did they use for the baskets?



LM: They used the willow and sometimes cottonwood and mountain sumac, my aunt said—the young sprouts. And they used what we called Devil’s Claw. It grew in big clumps. Devil’s Claw has a pod on one end and long two prongs that come up like this and that’s the part you use to make designs on the basket. My aunt said they used that black and they used red from the root of the yucca. And for the brown and gold and yellow, you used the root of the junta or juncus grass. You gathered them and cleaned them and put them away if you didn’t use them right then.

The willow was for—I call it rods—and then there was the warp. You had to split the willow for the warp three ways. You’d put one part in your mouth and then with your thumb, hold it right down and if it was ready it’d roll pretty good. And then they had a little can—I always think it was a corned beef can. They had certain size holes poked in the top and you ran it through there and it made it the same size. If you didn’t use it right then, you’d just wrap the rest up and put it away and when you wanted to use it, you’d just put it in warm water and it would be pliant.

That was the willow. And if they went to the mountain they gathered mountain sumac. When you’re a weaver, you gather in the same area so what you cut down, the next year it comes back up straight. When it’s ready, all you do is take it from the top to where the leaves are; that way it’s easier to use and prepare.



RM: Are there still any baskets being made?



LM: We have one basket weaver from our area, Everett Pikyavit. He does beautiful weaving.



RM: Before the whites came, did the Paiutes distinguish between the people from Las Vegas and Moapa and Cedar City and so on?



LM: No.



RM: It was a white idea, wasn’t it?



LM: Yes, it was the government. On certain projects that I’m on sometimes we deal with the Western Shoshones—the Owens Valley Paiutes. I tell them, “You know, our people shared the land. When the white man came the government divvied that land and said, ‘This is the Shoshone land, this is Paiute land.’ But in the olden days, there was no line.” If the pine nuts were plentiful in the Shoshone land, we asked permission . . . certain families had their own area where they picked. You would ask that family. “We’d like to go up and pick a few of your pine nuts,” and they’d give you the okay, and when they came and they asked for stuff, you would say yes. Like I said, we shared but nowadays it’s hard.





CHAPTER THREE




RM: Lalovi is now taking me on a guided tour of some sites. Tell that story again, about how you played.



LM: We’re at the hillside of my home and this was our playground when I was young. We would go sliding down the hill. It didn’t depend on the season—any time we wanted to we’d come up here and do that.

As we drive down, on the right-hand side there was a little mesquite tree. My sister Louella was born underneath there. That’s why she chose to build her home up here.



RM: How many families live here now?



LM: I think we’ve got close to 70 families. Our total membership is 350. The building on the right-hand side is the Head Start building where our kids go to school before they enter the public schools. Before that, there were two barracks that they got from the Test Site. They put the leather workshop there, where people learn to work with leather and beading, but now we have the medical center, the Irene Benn Clinic. Then we have the Voc Rehab. A lady who is a beautician has a little shop there. And over here is the education support center for our students who need tutoring. This other one on the hill used to be our old police department. And in this little area over here. . . .



RM: We’re in the wash, kind of.



LM: The ditch line made a turn and came underneath the road. Then it went along and made a wide arc and went back underneath. This area was always reserved for our ceremonials.



RM: Just north of the road, crossing over the wash.



LM: Yes. And there were two homes, one by the salt cedar and one right over here, and the water, like I said, came around. In the olden days, before my time, that’s where the people lived. That was way, way before I was born.



RM: Okay, through this cut, going kind of northwest. The people lived here?



LM: Yes, they lived here. And they had a trail going up the hill to where they stabled their horses.



RM: Why do you think they chose that area?



LM: I think because of the shelter from the north. The north wind is cold.



RM: And then the river was right over here. Before the white man got here, did the Paiutes practice any agriculture at all?



LM: Yes, they did, down in the valley. They grew squash, beans, and corn.



RM: Where do you think they learned about agriculture?



LM: Our story is told that the Creator told us how.



RM: We’re taking a left now at the fork of the road and we’re on Lincoln Street.



LM: It was told that the Creator had given our people beans and he gave them instructions. In the Indian language, we’re known as the Mudiitsiu, meaning the Bean People. Mudii is “beans” in our language. So it’s saying we’re people of the beans, we’re Mudiitsiu.



RM: So that proves that you were growing beans. Were the people right in here known as the Bean People?



LM: No, down in Moapa Valley, before the reservation was created for us.



RM: What were the people in the Vegas area called? Did they have a name?



LM: I think they had a name but I don’t remember what it was.



RM: How about the Pahrump area? Did they have a name?



LM: They had their own names. I know when we referred to Chemehuevi and Parker, we would call them “the people of the south,” Tanduvaitsiu; tandu means “south.” All this was allotted land for the people when it became a reservation; they turned it into agricultural land.



RM: How much land did each person get?



LM: I don’t know what the acreage was; it wasn’t very much. And we had burial caves on both sides way before my mom’s time, she said.

A couple of yards up, the road will end; we’ll turn around there. Up in the little canyon there, there’s a CCC dam, but it hasn’t been used anymore.



RM: Is that what made the canal?



LM: No. The headwaters start over to the right and then it was diverted on each side of the river for the people that lived on certain sites.



RM: So we’re turning around here? And these are salt cedar, right?



LM: Yes. And salt cedar saps up a lot of water. Have you ever seen their roots? They’re very long.



RM: Did the people have any use for the salt cedar?



LM: No, it came in later on, with the whites.



RM: It’s a nuisance now, isn’t it?



LM: Yes, it is a nuisance. We have a project where the boys work on it in the summertime and the spring, trying to get rid of it.



RM: Were there many mesquites here when you were growing up?



LM: Oh yes, a lot of mesquites.



RM: Did you make much use of the mesquites when you were growing up?



LM: We gathered it. If it was in the spring and it was coming out, we’d watch to see when it ripened and we’d get it and eat it. Or we’d wait until it dried up and gathered it and Grandmother would put it into powder form. We called it candy—she would add water to it and put it in a pan and dry it up and break it in pieces.



RM: Was it good?



LM: It was good. It’s got a sweet taste. But you’ve got to acquire the taste for it.



RM: Now we’re heading back down Lincoln Street.



LM: These green bushes bring out little berries in the spring; we call them pa’up. It’s made into a drink. It’s a little red berry when it ripens. It has a lot of little seeds, but you have to boil it first.



RM: Is it good?



LM: It’s good. But you’ve got to be careful. You can’t drink too much of it or it gives you diarrhea.



RM: So you can use it as a laxative, too?



LM: Yes.



RM: When did they build that power plant?



LM: I would say in the ’60s or ’70s. The Muddy River went down and the headwaters are way up in Warm Springs. Our family had a house that used to sit in the middle of the lower part of this field, and one here. And my mom says behind here, along the road, there were big trees and that’s where they used to have their harvest festival in the fall. It was a fun day for them, she said. They had horse races and what not and people brought in their garden produce.

We always called the Red Hills our playground because we used to have a trail that we used to run through, the boys and girls.



RM: On these hills, along Lincoln Road?



LM: Along the top. It was good; we were very close at that time with the families. My friends would come down or I’d go to their house and we’d tell our parents, “I’m going to go see so-and-so,” and they’d say okay. At that time you didn’t have a lot of people driving up and down the road, so it was safe.

My aunt lived over here by this salt cedar and this, uh, thing.



RM: At the foot of the hill that your house is on?



LM: Yes. And then there was an elderly lady who lived here—her name was Pagroonsie. She always told the people exactly when the season changed. And there was a house in the wash in between and then another home here with two little houses made of willow and mud. This is where I lived as a young girl.



RM: So you lived across the street from where the administration is now?



LM: Yes. And right here, where this road came down, it went straight down across this road. The agent’s house was right on the side, a beautiful big house. This was the pump house for his water—it was pumped to the tank on the hill and then down. And they had an old schoolhouse right where this slab is. On the hillside, which they cut down quite a bit, St. Matthew’s had their church a couple hundred yards past the administration building.



RM: And again, we can see the power plant just to the east of the community. Now, this is what is really known as Moapa, right?



LM: This is the Moapa Indian Reservation. The little town of Moapa no longer exists; not even the railroad. The little town is gone, the store, the bar, the hotel. The hotel was gone before I was in elementary school.



RM: Where was it located?



LM: Over the hill. And our reservation ends down here a couple yards down.



RM: And the way it’s pronounced is “Moapa,” right? Do you hear people say “Mawawpa”?

LM: Moapa means . . . some say it means “bitter water” and some say it means “mosquito water.” Now we can turn around and go up the main road and I’ll show you Standing Rock and Potato Woman.



RM: Okay. So we’re at the border of your reservation now?



LM: Yes, we can turn around here. This was all mesquite down this way.



RM: Oh, where the houses are? On the south?



LM: It was all mesquite. We’ll turn to the right here, then we’ll go up the hill a little ways and up on the hill. We can stop there and I’ll show you the Standing Rock. This is where the people from the farm and garage did their maintenance work on the tractors and whatever they had. They had a big fence where they’d stack the bales of hay, and then another place. My mom said that’s when they had big semi trucks coming in 24 hours a day, picking up the alfalfa to sell.



RM: Do many tribal members work at the power company?



LM: In the beginning, they did. I don’t think we have any tribal members working there anymore; there’s one that’s married to one of our tribal members. Okay, when we get up to the top, we’ll stop.



RM: Okay, we’re on the main road that comes into the village headed north and we’ve pulled off the road at the top of the hill.



LM: If you look straight up and see the highest peak up there, that’s what we call tumbiwanud, meaning “standing rock” in our language. That is where the story of the dove and how he got his white tail feathers is. And then when you look down to the south, right over there in the distance, at a certain angle, just as you get up the mesa, at a certain time you can see the profile of Potato Woman, who gave birth to the bighorn sheep.



RM: I’ve always wondered: what is that tall mountain over in the distance?



LM: Our people call that, in our language, Maagurud. That means “Brush Mountain” because it has a lot of brush on it. I think that’s Bunkerville Mountain.



RM: Was that good hunting over there?



LM: I think it was but a lot of people don’t like hunting in the brushes. Some of our people way, way in the olden times were over in that area, and even Moapa Valley is our area. Like I said, my granddad, Indian Chappo, homesteaded down in the valley there.



RM: Do you want to go on?



LM: Do you want to go to Warm Springs?



RM: How far is it?



LM: It’s not too far.



RM: And we’re going to get back on . . . ?



LM: On 168. That’s the road you also can take to go up to the Great Basin Highway and then go back, turn left and go back to Las Vegas that way, too. I went to town Wednesday and ran into a terrible accident. They were coming northbound and the car going southbound went across and caused the accident. We had to stop at the Skillet, and people said they had been waiting there for hours! My son told some of them, “You know if you want to take a couple more minutes, you can get on the freeway heading north on I-15, take the Great Basin turnoff and take it up to 168, which is Coyote Springs. Then you come back down 20 miles and you’ll be back on the interstate and go on your way.”



RM: That’s better than waiting for hours. What is this building over here?



LM: That is the new water storage for the water that goes down into Moapa Valley.



RM: We are not on the reservation now?



LM: No, we’re out of the reservation. But it was our ancestral land—all of southern Nevada.



RM: What is this little community here?



LM: It’s just part of Warm Springs. People bought lots here and there. At one time there were only four or five families that lived up here but now they’re all different families. Since Nevada Power came in, it has changed the place completely.



RM: What do you think when you see all the changes in southern Nevada?



LM: I think people move out here because they like the environment. In Las Vegas you’re so close you don’t have any space! I always say you could hear each other in the next house over.



RM: Yes, it’s just awful.



LM: We’ll turn to the left up here. Now, this is what we call Warm Springs. Lawrence Perkins lived here with his wife and children and we more or less went to school with them at the old school at Moapa, which went to the sixth grade. Then, his brother or cousin, Dale Perkins, lived there with his family. And their sister, Clara Logan, lived there and had a home near Dale. Their other cousin was Mort Perkins, and he lived there with his family.

At the time, it was just the springs up there. Later on, people bought land and made it into a nice little resort for swimming. The one swimming pool that they made was cut out of the limestone and sealed. Some of the young Indian men worked on the pool.



RM: Did the Perkins and Logans run a ranch?



LM: Dale did a little farming but they had jobs that they went to. And this is the Muddy River going down there. The headwaters are up here.



RM: Does it just come out of the ground there?



LM: Yes, and it’s 80 degrees; it’s nice. Before the white people came in, we used to come up here and bathe in the water, where the cave water came out. There are quite a few little springs that feed it.

Now we’re up in the Warm Springs area. The road will make a loop and we’ll go back down. Over here is where they had the swimming pools. I think Fish and Wildlife took one over. This is, I think, what the Fish and Wildlife had.

RM: It’s a nice area, isn’t it?

LM: They’ve really built it back up; it burned once. They closed the pools down because of the endangered species, the dace.

Here was the big ranch that they had. At that time, way before the millionaire bought it, it was called Home Ranch. He bought it and built it up real nice and his workers who took care of the cattle were there. That’s another one that’s closed—the pool up there. We used to come up and get our sodas and hamburgers and what not if we wanted to.



RM: Is someone trying to get all this water here?



LM: Yes, the Las Vegas Valley District. Moapa Valley Water owns it.



RM: Is there a lot of water here?



LM: Yes. Along through here and then over here, this road to the right will take you over to that ranch. The last I knew it, the Mormon church had it.



RM: Was that where your mom worked?



LM: Yes; for Francis Taylor. There was a spring there and it made a natural pool so he built his home there. The water in his master bedroom off of his den went down into a Roman-style tub. It was nice. It was crazy because it was an oval house. The beds were special-order, made to fit the curve of the walls. And all he raised was Brahma and Charolais. A lot of people worked for him, I think five at the most.

My mom was there as a housekeeper; she wasn’t the cook or anything. In the summertime, he got boys from his alma mater, Yale, and they would stay around the house because his family was gone for the summer. He told them, “My housekeeper does not cook for you or wash for you. All she’s here is to clean the house. The rest is what you guys do. You clean up your mess, you do your own laundry, you do your own cleaning.”

Now, we can take the road to the right here and that will get us back down. The other one goes on around a little further and then it goes back down.

RM: So the highway just circles the Warm Springs area? Is this where they planned to make that big city of thousands of houses?



LM: No, that’s up a little ways—by the Coyote Springs Golf Course. Remember the Air Force at one time was going to put their missile sites there, Amex?

Now, this is Warm Springs. Our people used to live up here, too, way in the olden times. My aunt always said our people lived along where the springs were, in clans.



RM: It’s really nice. I’ve heard about it but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. What do people here do for a living now?



LM: Some of them work at Nevada Power and some are county workers. We have some of the county police department, the metropolitan—they live out here and in the valley. And highway patrol, sometimes. When I was growing up, there were only four or five families here, but a lot of families have come in. Even down in Moapa Valley there are new families coming in all the time. Nevada Power, when it first came in, brought in a lot of people. If you’re in our area they can’t do anything on our lands.



RM: Right, your land can’t be touched. How many acres is the reservation?



LM: In the beginning, it was supposed to be a two million-acre reservation for all the Paiutes, but then it was cut down back to what you see in the valley where I live. Then in the ’70s or the ’80s, they were given the new allotted lands, the Valley of Fire area.



RM: Oh, where the casino is?



LM: Yes, that belongs to us. Maybe five years ago, they were going to put up a big cement plant; they were going to mine the products for building it. The lime was so good that they didn’t need to add any additives to the cement, whereas some places do. But it went kaput. We changed so much in our tribal government that it was there on the dotted line to be signed, but then when the new council came in. . . . They could never recoup what they did. We would have been seeing the royalties from it because they were going to make about 800 little sites for their workers to live at Valley of Fire. It was going to be a nice thing. But every December we have our elections and things change. That’s always been the controversy we have at our annual meeting, which will be in this month, in December. Every now and then, we refer to it. It would have been in production and we would have been seeing results from it. Whatever our entities make, it supports the tribe. We use that for some of our projects.

As we’re returning home, over here, that one road we saw that went to the right, goes up into the new rental units. My daughter lives up there. Right over past them is where other people live; they bought lots up there.



RM: Now, this would be Potato Woman right over here, right?



LM: Yes, straight over there. But you’ve got to see her at a certain angle as you come up the valley onto the mesa at a certain time—I can’t remember; I think before 10:00 a.m.



RM: This isn’t the turn, is it?



LM: No, it’s down below. But the little town of Moapa no longer is there.



RM: It’s not in Lake Mead, is it?



LM: No, it’s right over here. But, like I said, there’s no evidence of it now.



RM: And where exactly is the Moapa Valley?



LM: Moapa Valley is down off of the interstate when you go down to Logandale and Overton. This is our turn-off here.



RM: Was that a roadrunner? Do Paiutes have any roadrunner stories?



LM: They do.



RM: Is he special to the Paiutes or just another bird?



LM: I think he is special but he’s not as special as the eagle. When you’re coming or going from Las Vegas by Byron early in the morning, you see the shadow of the eagle; it shows in the morning sun. It’s really nice. So this is where I grew up.



RM: A lot of the people who were associated with the Las Vegas area came over here when they established this reservation, didn’t they?



LM: Yes, in a way. And then they went back, but they’re an offshoot of Moapa. So this is Moapa. It has changed so much from the time I grew up. I always tell my kids that.



RM: The whole world has changed; it’s kind of strange how much it’s changed.



LM: Yes [laughs], like Las Vegas, and how it grew! I can remember there were artesian wells behind the Fiesta and Texas and one up near Santa Fe as a little girl. I watched Las Vegas grow.



RM: Thanks so much for this tour; I really appreciate it.





Robert McCracken talking to Lalovi Miller in a follow-up interview December 2, 2009.




CHAPTER FOUR



RM: Lalovi, would you talk about your important work in preserving your culture?



LM: I got involved because I feel that we have to preserve it for our youth. I used to listen to my grandmother and my mom and my aunt and that’s how I retained a lot of the stuff that I know. It is handed down orally and some of families don’t do that. And our youth can’t speak the language the way I can. I retain it because my grandmother didn’t speak very good English and we’d be with her in the summertime.

The thing I think is important is that it’s for our future—you can’t find a full-blooded Indian anymore in the Moapa band but about four, five, six; and I’ve tried. I think it’s that way in all the different bands. We’re all interrelated. I have relatives in Utah, Arizona, California, so it makes it hard [for young people to find someone to marry] and naturally we won’t have a full Moapa Paiute people because of that. It’s important that we teach our kids who their relatives are so there’s no intermarriage; that used to be a no-no in our culture.



RM: Is it still a no-no?



LM: It is to some of us but to families that don’t know. . . . It’s up to the parents to teach the children because we all are the first teachers of our children. The important part, I think, is teaching them so they can remember, “Yes, Mom talked about this;” “Yes, Mom told us this.” So I teach my children this so they will know and will say “Yes, I’ve heard those stories before.”



RM: What are some of the things that you believe are important to teach them?



LM: I really believe that they need to know who they are—where they come from, their roots. A lot of people don’t know that they’re related to certain people because they’ve never been told. When one of my grandsons was 16 we had to go to Kaibab and my son said, “Let’s take him with us so we can introduce him to his relatives so when he gets older he will know that he cannot date them.” I think that’s important; the way it would turn out wouldn’t be very nice—there would be something mentally and physically wrong with a child if you married your blood relatives, and that even goes back to the third generation. First and second and third cousins are all a no-no.



RM: What are the other elements of your tradition that you feel are important to be passed on?



LM: I feel that they should know the spiritual part of it. They don’t have to be a religious person as long as they know that we have our own beliefs in the Creator. We do like everybody else, we pray at night and in the morning, being thankful for what the Creator has provided us in those times. I think you don’t have to go to church every Sunday, you can still be prayerful no matter where you’re at.

Those, I think, are the important parts of teaching a child; as long as they know that there is a God and they taught that there are consequences. One of the things we believe especially is that you’re never to take your own life. That is very bad because your spirit will never go to the Creator; your spirit will always be here because of that. That’s one of the most important ones.



RM: So they can’t have a Salt Sing or a Bird Dance for a suicide?



LM: They are not supposed to have them for people who take their own life.



RM: Do spirits ever show up and cause trouble?



LM: My mom said, “Don’t be afraid of the spirits and if you’re confronted with one, just talk to it like you’re talking to a person, asking him why he is here—is he visiting you or is there something that needs to be done?” She always said, “Never fear him and just ask him and he will sometimes reveal it.” They’re there to protect you, also.



RM: So they’ll protect you even though they can’t go on to the other world?



LM: No, not the bad spirits.



RM: There are bad spirits and good spirits?



LM: The bad spirit would be the one that took its own life.



RM: And what does he do? Is he stuck in this world forever?



LM: His soul and spirit is just here, stuck in this existence. Whereas the others, we say, will go on into the other world. My sister had renal failure and she kind of gave up her life and she said, “I don’t know if it was a dream or if I actually passed on for so many minutes, but I did everything everybody says and that you read about,” traveling towards a light. She said that she was traveling through the darkness and she could hear people talking and I think she meant down below. She said, “It seemed like I was going up, and at the end, there was this light. And when I came out into this light, it was the most beautiful place. So beautiful.” She said, “I felt so good and my vision was perfect.” She had tunnel vision and there were days when every joint in her body ached and all that. She said, “When I got there, I was just perfect. I was happy because there was no pain, nothing. I could see perfectly and it was so beautiful.” She said, “In the background were these beautiful rolling hills.”

She said people that she knew from the time she was little were standing there. They were happy to see her and they said “Come on over! Come on over!”

And she said, “There was something that held me back. There was a stream in front of me. My grandmother and our mother were waiting on the other side,” and she said, “Mom, help me over.”

And she said Mom told her no. She said, “No daughter, it’s not your time. You have to go back—there are a lot of things you have to do for the people.”

Being LDS, my sister had her patriarchal blessings to do and she was told that her people would be her children and she was to teach them and guide them and do a lot of other things. That’s what my mom told her; she said, “It’s not your time. You have to go back; you have a lot of things to do before you can come.” She said, “My sister,” our Aunt Topsy, “would be there with her to greet her.”

She said, “I woke up out of that dream and I don’t know if it was a dream or if I actually died and really experienced it.” She told this to one of the leaders out of BYU who was, I guess, in the Indian education department. He was traveling through and she happened to see him peek in into the council chambers. I happened to be there while she was telling him. He actually wrote down what she had experienced for her. He said it was what you would call a near death experience because she had gone to other side.



RM: That’s a beautiful story.



LM: Our people believe that we go to the spirit world.



RM: That they help them go to by singing.



LM: Yes. We have a ceremony this week because one of our friends and neighbors passed away yesterday. There are things that the family needs to know when they have a ceremony. I believe if you want the ceremonies, you need to teach your family first what to do. There are a lot of dos and don’ts that you’re not supposed to do.



RM: You said there are good spirits and bad spirits and the people who have taken their own lives become bad spirits. Are there other kinds of bad spirits?



LM: Some people believe that there are some people, shamans, that have bad powers and that there are bad shamans. But the ones that take their own life are just doomed because they did the deed, and it’s sad to say that.



RM: Where do the really bad spirits come from, or are there such things?



LM: I think if you believe in the shaman, or the medicine man . . . and we had good and bad medicine men. We say that if you’re a medicine person and you believe in the good and have been taught that, you don’t ask for monetary gain; it’s always what the person thinks, or can, afford to give you. These are gifts that are given to you, like the songs.

I sit in the Salt Songs; I am learning it but it’s taking me quite a while. It’s something that I thought would be handed down from my grandmother because my grandmother sang Salt. There were five of us girls and when we’d get together we’d say, “I wonder which one of us is going to inherit Grandma’s ability to sing the Salt Songs? One of us has to have that.”

And we all said, “Well, we’ve got to start learning,” so I started. What I did to learn about my culture and tradition is, like I say, preserving it as a teacher. If you didn’t get in and do it, it would have been lost. I started in the ’80s with doing cultural visits to different places because I had to drive my sister to her cultural meetings. And what is she going to do, just stay in the motel when she’s in a little town—Beatty or Tonopah or some other place? So I started going along and that’s how I learned.



RM: What kind of cultural things did you go to?



LM: As a cultural representative for the tribe I get to go to different meetings and areas. I worked down at the Nevada Test Site as a monitor and I worked on Yucca Mountain and I was on the air force program and did things with DOE. DOE is the Test Site but we were there to watch them when they did their work in archeology. All we had to do was stand around. We finally told them we didn’t like standing just around and we said, “If you would show us what to do we could help screen the debris.” So we did some of that and we’d also sit and record numbers for them and we worked in the laboratory and helped to clean artifacts.



RM: So you were helping with the archaeology?



LM: Yes. All of these things were on what I call our ancestral lands. I said, “The Test Site was what we called our ancestral lands, but we shared it.” The Shoshone sometimes will say it isn’t. I said, “We’re not the ones that made that line saying, ‘This is Shoshone land, this is Paiute land’. If we wanted to come into Shoshone land we would ask for permission to gather or whatever we were going to do and they would do the same thing if they wanted to come down here.”



RM: Where is the traditional Paiute territory?



LM: We say from Richfield over the mountain to Kanosh, then on down. It goes a little below Goldfield and then down toward Ash Meadows. I would say it goes down through the Mojave Desert into Parker and Chemehuevi.



RM: Does it go over to Bishop, in that area?



LM: No, I think it stays on this side of Death Valley, the Funeral Mountains.



RM: The Funeral Mountains are the border?



LM: I think so. But it encompasses that. That’s the things you learn when you are learning the Salt Songs.



RM: Because they go on that journey, don’t they? That includes the Pahrump Valley and the Las Vegas Valley. Does it go down to Laughlin and that way?



LM: From Las Vegas it goes down almost near Mountain Pass and then down and it makes a big loop.



RM: Is it very difficult to learn the Salt Songs?



LM: It’s a tongue twister to me; you’ve got to sit and concentrate. The best way to do it is to listen and then kind of hum the tune, then later you start learning the words.



RM: The words are difficult?



LM: It’s the way you pronounce it.



RM: It’s a little bit different from the Paiute language?



LM: No, it’s the Paiute language; it’s just sung.



RM: What are the high points of the Paiute history in your view?



LM: I think it’s our beliefs, our songs, our dances, our language. The language is the most important. You can talk to anyone in the seven bands, you could understand them, but the dialect is a little bit different.



RM: Are there concepts that you express in the Paiute language that are difficult to express in English because the words are not the same?



LM: As we speak our language, it’s backwards. Like when I say “standing rock” in English, in my language I am saying “the rock is standing,” And one word could mean different things; it’s the way you use it in your sentence.



RM: Talk about how you got involved in the work with the Test Site and Yucca Mountain and the various government projects as a representative of the Paiute.



LM: I went, like I say, as a driver for the elders and then I just started doing things with them. They allowed me to go in so that’s how I learned and am retaining the stories and places that are important to the Moapa band.

I think everybody should, at a certain age, get involved. My daughter started going to language class with me. She was picking it up and one day her friends from Chemehuevi called and said that on a Saturday they were having sort of a get-together and dedication down at the Old Woman Mountains. I said, “I’ll see if I have transportation and if I have transportation, I’ll be down there.” Everybody said I couldn’t go because [that was the same day as the] honoring the elder banquet in Las Vegas. I said, “I think if I go down there it is more important that I represent Moapa.”

So my daughter and I we went there, and there was another boy from Las Vegas. There were some Salt Song singers and I told my daughter, “I think I’ll sing with the Salt Song singers here.” And when they asked somebody to speak, my daughter got up and spoke. She told them in our language who she was, what her name was, where she was from, and why she was down there. She said, “I drove my mom down, who is Lalovi Miller. We think it’s important that we try to attend all of the meetings that we can if we find out about them in a decent time.”

I think it’s parents teaching their children the importance of these things, the stories. I can remember going across the river to play with one of my friends and her dad would tell us stories and he told about Standing Rock.



RM: Yes, and now when I drive I’ve been watching for Standing Rock and for Potato Woman.



LM: And when you get to Byron over here, look to the mountain at the west for the shadow of the eagle swooping down. It’s best to see in the morning sun when it’s this way.



RM: I’ll have to look for it. Can you see it at any other time of day?



LM: You can at certain angles—like when you get off the Logandale-Overton exit and getting onto the freeway.



RM: And what do you call it?



LM: I call it the shadow of the eagle. I don’t know the true story of that, but somebody said the eagle was hunting turtles out there.



RM: Does the stories of shadow of the eagle and so forth have any spiritual meaning to you?



LM: I think they are stories that our people told to their families during the winter months in the evening. A story would continue for one or two or three nights, however long the storyteller was telling things. I think sometimes it’s a teaching moment for the children to learn, sometimes it’s for fun and they were a time to interact with the older people in your family.



RM: When you are working with the various agencies at the Test Site and Yucca Mountain and so forth, you are helping to teach those people about your relationship to that land. Could you talk a little bit about that?



LM: Yes. Our people here in southern Nevada, the Southern Paiute, were nomadic and the archeological part of it is the evidence that our people have left behind. If I am out there and I see something that I think would be nice, I ask the Creator permission—I will not take it or do anything with it; all I want to do is look at it and then I put it back. I was always told that you don’t bring anything like that home because you don’t know if it was an offering or if it was something left for an evil purpose. I told you there are burial caves that I have never been in.



RM: A Paiute would never take anything from a burial cave, would they?



LM: No. We’ve had other people come in, like the curator from Lost City Museum, Chic Perkins; he used to go out and do things. A lot of the things that we see in the museums are things that we know are ours but we don’t say they shouldn’t have done that.



RM: But you sort of feel that they shouldn’t have been taken out.



LM: Yes, they shouldn’t have been taken out. A lot of times when we go to a place we’ll see things, and then when we go back a second time and it’s not there or we can’t find it.



RM: So it’s slowly disappearing?



LM: Yes. I think it’s done by people that have access to the areas and take things for their trophy or collections. One thing we do not really like to do is to claim skeletal remains. We believe that they were put in that area for a reason. The BLM is always coming to us because they have to notify the tribe nearest to where they found skeletal remains. They come to us but they never have any financial burden because they expect us to do it and a lot of times we tell them that we don’t really want to accept the skeletal remains, that we would like them to put them back where they found them or as near to that place as possible but a lot of times they can’t so we have to accept them.



RM: And then you rebury them?



LM: Yes, sometimes we do the ceremony. We used to get a spiritual man and it was all done at our tribe’s expense.



RM: Do you do the Salt Sing for them?



LM: There are four important songs that we sing at the beginning and end of the ceremony are the ones that we do for skeletal finds. That’s why whenever the government has anything going on, we always tell them we would like monitors on the site. We don’t disturb areas—we don’t try and put a road over here when it should be over on this side. We try to leave things as they are.



RM: Do you think the government does a good job of working with the people? How would you characterize it?



LM: I don’t think it has ever changed. I call the Bureau of Indian Affairs the thorn in the tribe’s side because everything that we do has to go through them for approval, even with BLM. Look at the utility corridor, the railroad, the power line, the gas line. It wasn’t until the gas line came through that they started hiring a lawyer. We collected the back taxes on that, which BLM didn’t push, or didn’t help. The sad part is that we get more information out of the Ely BLM office. There is an Indian boy who works there and he’s Paiute. We get a lot of information from him and it is slowly coming from Las Vegas now, very slowly. It’s getting a little better now; it’s not as bad as it was before.



RM: Where is your tribe’s headquarters for the BIA?



LM: The Paiute Nation has their field office in St. George, the Bureau of Indian Affairs.



RM: I was wondering what would happen if you put in some solar energy fields on the reservation.



LM: They are in negotiations on that. Usually the council makes it a point to get at least three different bids. In fact, I was at the Nellis meeting the first part of November and I came back and I told one of the council members, “You sit on the council but you don’t attend the meetings. They did a nice presentation on solar panels. It’s not going to take a long time to negotiate it; they will help you, the Air Force.” Someone in their office said she would help find grants for it so they’re looking into it.



RM: That’s good. I don’t know if you get much wind around here.



LM: Yes, we get wind. The Test Site was going to put some wind turbines up, and the Native Americans on the program told them no because we believe that it would do more harm to the birds.



RM: This is a more far-out idea, but they’ve made a lot of progress in the design of nuclear reactors.



LM: That is one thing I would never, never accept. In my lifetime, I say no. Because there is no guarantee what is going to happen. They tell us these casks [for nuclear storage] are going to be put down into water, right? And southern Nevada doesn’t have very much water and they are willing to do it but Obama has put a moratorium on Yucca Mountain.



RM: I’m talking about a nuclear power plant. I am not advocating that, I just want to get your opinion.



LM: I don’t think so; I think about the ill effects of it. The reactor that they had up at Hanford, Idaho, mutated the animals in the river and the ground was hot. They have another one down at Los Alamos, I think near Bandolier National Park. They say that one is right up against the reservation. They took the money, and I think Hanford did, too. I’m not quite sure. I don’t know about Idaho.

My thing is, if the states have nuclear waste in their state, then they should find their own place to put it. Don’t bring it to Nevada. I know Nevada looks desolate, but when you grow up and you’re part of the land, you will never say it is desolate.

RM: I know. I was talking to Richard Arnold and I said, “When I drive across the Amargosa Valley in the summer I think, how in the world could anybody survive out there?”

And he said, “When I drive across there in the summer, I don’t know how anybody couldn’t survive out there.” Because you folks know how to do it.



LM: That’s what I tell my kids sometimes when we drive to Las Vegas: “It’s amazing how our people survived out here.” The way that they had to travel. My aunt and my mother and grandmother said, “We would start in the morning and we would end up nearing Dry Lake at lunchtime.”

I said, “There’s really nothing out there except the Dry Lake and what mesquite trees they had.”

And they said, “No, we would sit and make fire and make lunch.” And they talked about St. George. They would leave here and get up on the mesa right by the Carp/Elgin Exit—there’s a little water trough there where they used to bring the water in for the cows that were grazing there. My mom said they would stop there for lunch and they would unhook the horses and take a team of horses up over the hill—I don’t know how far they went—to water their horses and then bring them back. Then they made it to Bunkerville by almost sundown, or sundown.



RM: They would go from here to Bunkerville in one day on foot?



LM: Can you imagine that, traveling in a horse and buggy?



RM: They were such a hearty people.



LM: Our people knew how to survive. When people came out West, they knew that our people were farmers and gardeners and that they knew how to survive. They just took their places over—our people lived along here from the headwaters and Warm Springs down to the valley.

It’s kind of ironic sometimes, because we do get floods and the Muddy River overflows. All the people selling the parcels down at Anderson Dairy—it’s going to be a subdivision there. One day somebody was talking and I said, “Well good luck. You must remember that we have 100-year floods and they do damage. The last one that went through when the dairy was in operation went through the mobile homes, in one door and out the other. The cows were floating; it took them all down the river.” They looked at me funny and I said, “You haven’t been told that? The realtor should tell you these things.”

Our homes are built real low, especially the government homes. I said, “Preferably, I think a house should be built so you at least have a little protection from the rain. These don’t.”

RM: You lived through the nuclear testing era. Talk about that and how your people saw it and the impact it had on you.



LM: We would see the mushroom clouds. The person who had the responsibility from the Bureau of Indian Affairs lived here and he would tell us that there was going to be a test so everybody would run outside to see it. One of my cousins worked down in the valley in the truck garden farms where they were actually out in the field doing the plants. She said they would watch that mushroom cloud; everybody did.



RM: And you could actually see it from here.



LM: Yes. At that time the homes didn’t have electricity, didn’t have insulation. We were always told that we didn’t have any radiation, that it didn’t affect us at all. Yet we saw it and a lot of our people passed away unexpectedly; and you never knew how.



RM: And they never told you radiation would sometimes come this way—because it did, didn’t it?



LM: They said no, we’re not the down-winders; the down-winders were in Utah. That’s why they tell us we don’t have any affective status—but it did. You could see things change completely here.



RM: Was there radiation here?



LM: I used to be on a program called the Nuclear Risk Management Program for Native Americans and one time they had their meeting here. We got in that ball field and that Geiger counter was going off over there.



RM: Were there any tribal members that worked at the Test Site that you recall? I mean, was that a source of employment?



LM: We had one or two. I know my cousin’s wife—she lived out in Pahrump Valley, Helen Tom—was married to one of our tribal members and she worked out there because when I was on some of the programs I used to talk to her out there. I think it’s up to the individual if they wanted the employment. It was good money and yet if you become a cancer victim. . . . For Native Americans, I think the highest payment was $50,000. I said. “You can make that working at the Test Site as a common laborer.” I think a lot of them in Utah applied for compensation but they never saw it. I don’t know if it went to their families afterwards. And the paperwork is so thick for Native Americans. I met a lady in Las Vegas and she said that when she applied it didn’t take them very long to get compensation. For Native Americans the paperwork is so thick and without good medical documentation—we never had that at the Indian Health Service. I knew some of our people passed on because of the testing.



RM: When they were testing in the atmosphere over there, did you have to wear badges here?



LM: Yes.



RM: So did we. We lived up east of Railroad Valley and we could see the tests go off and we used to have to wear those dosimeter badges.



LM: Yes. When we’re on the Test Site and Nellis we put on a dosimeter.



RM: Do you have any contact with the Duckwater Shoshone or the Yomba Shoshone?



LM: Yes, they have people from Yomba and Duckwater and Ely that represent their reservations on Yucca Mountain and the Nevada Test Site and sometimes the Nellis programs.



RM: Do Shoshones at Schurz come down?



LM: No. But I know they were involved in their own way on the Yucca Mountain project because of the railroad. They got a big payment for it.



RM: Did your tribe get any Yucca Mountain payment?



LM: No, but our cultural committee has the Yucca Mountain program here. We go out to fairs and different things and we have a table and hand out things, the fact sheet and so on. Our program is through the county and it’s not very much; it’s only $20,000 for the whole year.

RM: Are the programs at the Test Site still active?



LM: I think DOE only funds one meeting a year but those are for the 17 consolidated tribes that have input there. They haven’t had one here for almost two years now but there are some of us that are called the subwriters that help do the EIS [environmental impact statement], and we might have two or three meetings a year. I am on that group; I keep busy all the time. That’s for the Nevada Test Site. Mercury at the Test Site is a ghost town compared to what it used to be.



RM: Do the Paiute here have any ideas about what should be done with the Test Site? It’s such a huge area.



LM: It is huge. I don’t think they really know what’s out there because they’ve never chosen to be on the programs. I’m always the tribal cultural representative for those programs.



RM: Do you have any thoughts about the Test Site and what should become of it?



LM: Well, we can say, but I don’t think it would happen. As far as I am concerned, they never listen to the Native Americans.



RM: What would you personally like to see become of the Test Site from a Native American perspective?



LM: The part I don’t like is the underground testing that they do because it is going to emit down into the water, the aquifer. I read an article that said that plutonium was going down in the aquifer.



RM: I think it’s tritium.



LM: It’s one of those things. It probably won’t affect anybody for years and years, but it is going down.



RM: They are saying that it will reach Beatty in 6000 years.



LM: And there are areas that are what they still consider hot on the Test Site.



RM: Did you ever go to any of those areas as a part of your work?



LM: I’d go past them as part of the subwriters group. Like I said, we wore those badges with dosimeters on them.



RM: How has the growth of Las Vegas in the last generation or so impacted the Paiute people?



LM: I think it’s like an invasion, but in a way it’s progress for people. To me, I think Vegas is like the cart before the horse because of the water issues. They’re trying to get water out of near Ely; they don’t care about anything else. That pipeline is going to be having pumps to feed that line coming through. What about the animals, the vegetation? I said to the lady that runs it—she is so smirky in her attitude—and I said, “It’s terrible. Because of progress, people are being paid to dig up their lawns at so much a foot, and yet here are these big hotels that have the money, they’ve got these fancy waters and what not.” It’s sad. I say, “Money talks.” If you’ve got the money you can fight it. If not, you’re the low man on the totem pole.



RM: Will the pipeline come through the reservation or here?



LM: No, it will bypass us down practically along the Great Basin Highway.



RM: I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t allow it to happen.



LM: I think people are more vocal about it because they know more now. The thing that’s sad to see is the vegetation and the wildlife. It’s going to affect them because once they start pumping, they’re going to go down I don’t know how many feet and all these natural springs are going to dry up and the poor animals are going to go. That was similar to Yucca Mountain. They were going to drill a big well up there on top saying that it was for cooling it.



RM: Basically they did the same thing in the Owens Valley in California—they drained that for L.A.



LM: You can see the way Lake Mead looks now; it’s sad to see. I feel sorry for the future because of the water conditions; and Las Vegas just keeps on growing. It’s nice to go to because it’s a 24-hour town; you can get anything you want to. But to live next door and hear your neighbor’s TV in the bathroom—I mean, it’s that close.

I can remember Las Vegas Boulevard—that was Highway 91, right? It didn’t have very much traffic and it ran smack dab through Las Vegas where the old train station was, the bus station. I said, “It’s changed so much.” I only go down Fremont Street now once a year, down around Fourth Street, where they do the cancer walk; I participate in that. I can remember when kids stood outside the casinos while their parents would gamble, and nobody bothered the kids.



RM: What’s your earliest memory of the Strip?



LM: I think my earliest memory was the Flamingo Hotel, and it seemed like it was way out of nowhere. I can barely remember a little of El Rancho.



RM: What do you remember of the El Rancho?



LM: To me, that was where the rich people came when they got their six-month divorce. I was coming off of the Kyle Canyon project. We came up Fremont and I said, “There’s a place here there they used to call Four Mile, an old brothel. My cousin Clarabelle used to talk about it.”



RM: Really? Where was the Four Mile?



LM: It was around the Sahara/Fremont area. And I can remember the big artesian wells behind Fiesta Hotel and the Texas—they were so big. And then Santa Fe, too—somebody had a little homestead and there was a little stream there because I remember it had a little tiny pond, big enough for their use.



RM: Did you used to go into Vegas much when you were a kid?



LM: Because of my grandmother, yes. She lived on the colony there, the deeded land. They make a big deal about Helen J. Stewart deeding the land, but I think the government paid for it, really. They make her sound like a great humanitarian. It was nice there because I remember they had water, but the housing was not good. They lived under the agency here at Moapa.



RM: Do you have any other thoughts about Pahrump or Mount Charleston or the Paiute people over in Pahrump?



LM: That’s a sad situation for the Pahrump people because there are not very many of them and they’re not federally recognized.



RM: Do you feel that they should be recognized?



LM: I think so. I think that any Native American Indian should be recognized because after all, it was our land. You hear about people in other countries saying to the soldiers when they find out that they are American Indians, “What are you fighting for? You have no land.” There was a man from Utah who was in the army and one day his company or troop or whatever you call it got captured and they let him go when they found out he was Indian. They said, “You have no country to fight for; we have no problem with you.” I think somebody said the Germans did that to the Native American Indians, too.



RM: Is that right? A lot of Native American Indians are very patriotic, aren’t they?



LM: Yes.



RM: Have you been satisfied with the Indian Health Service over the years?



LM: I think it could have been better if they had kept good medical records. I can remember when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I signed that paper saying that they can look through my legal records. Mine were up in Schurz, Nevada, and there was nothing there.



RM: So they lost your records?



LM: Yes, I guess it wasn’t taken care of in the storage. They don’t realize people need these. And how can you do your documentation for radiation? Now that I am older I am on Medicare so my copay is paid by the Indian Health Service but I don’t get the best care, I don’t think. But it’s up to you and your doctor and what you demand from your doctor.



RM: You can go anywhere to get your healthcare since you are on Medicare can’t you?



LM: No, not Native Americans. There are certain ones that they call providers and they accept our copay. If I really needed it I would go to UMC because that’s state or county funded and they would have to pick you up. I know that Indian Health Service has a poor track record with Native Americans because they don’t pay their bills on time and in a lot of cases, it goes to special collections and ruins your credit. It’s sad to see that.



RM: Is there anything we’re leaving out?



LM: I think we are leaving out about our political tribal government. We have a council that takes care of our legal things for the tribe. It’s six-member council and each year they elect the chairman of the council—there are two council members going in this time and I think four or five are running.



RM: Have you ever been on the council?



LM: Yes, years ago.



RM: Was that a good experience?



LM: In a way. You learned how the tribe operates and that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is supposed to be helping with what’s best for the tribe but it takes so dang long that you lose a lot of the projects.



RM: Who are some of the families in Pahrump that you recall over the years?



LM: I remember the Sharps, the Sacketts, and Long Jim—the Jim family. My dad was related to the Jims.



RM: So you are related to Clarabelle?



LM: Yes. And the Sharps, the Browns. I remember Annie Beck and I remember . . . I can’t think of her English name, but remember going from here to Wheeler Springs and Wheeler Pass collecting the pine nuts and the two older ladies, Annie Beck and the other woman, came up on a horse. Annie Beck really knew how to ride and what impressed me was she was sitting on her saddle talking and she rolled a cigarette. We told our dad, “Dad, did you see that? She was rolling her own cigarette!” She had a Bull Durham packet and the little string was hanging out. They made camp near us.

One of the best things I remember is going to see them when my dad was hunting there; if he had enough to share he would take them rabbits or whatever and they would give us the powdered mesquite.



RM: That was a treat, wasn’t it?



LM: Yes. There were four of us in the family so each one of us got our own can. There was a pond near the California-Nevada border; I can remember my dad duck hunting out there and we’d spend the day there—my mom would pack a lunch. Or we’d go up to the Ash Meadows area and swam in those springs.



RM: Was the pond on the Pahrump ranch?



LM: No, this was near the California border.



RM: Was it in Pahrump Valley?



LM: Yes. I didn’t really know the name of the bar but the owner’s name I think was Jim Cruz, so we used to call it Cruz’s bar. It was over near that area, kind of south of it.



RM: Kind of going down near Shoshone?



LM: Well, the road goes toward Shoshone but it was more south. I remember going up to Ash Meadows and they had a family, the Bishop family—Joe Bishop and I think the last one that survived was Archie Bishop. He was down in Parker because I got a call from there. One of the ladies called and said, “Is there anybody there that’s related to Archie? He left a lot of money.”



RM: Was Archie Bishop Native American?



LM: Yes, he was Paiute.



RM: What band would he have been in—Las Vegas or Pahrump?



LM: He was more Pahrump.



RM: Thinking back, how many Paiute were there that kind of looked at Pahrump as home?



LM: There was the Sharp family, the Sackett family, Jeff and Mutt Weed, the Jim family, the Browns, my grandfather Bob Lee, Richard Arnold’s family. I would say off hand there were about 10 or 15 families out there.



RM: And you believe that the Pahrump band, or the Pahrump people, should have their own recognition.



LM: I think so because if we didn’t have our reservation lines, we’d have people living close by us, too, like where the new housing is—there are people living just over the fence line.



RM: Do you think that if Pahrump people got recognition, some Paiute people would move to that area?



LM: Yes. I said it as a joke because I don’t really know my paternal side, but I always told Richard Arnold, “If you guys ever get federally recognized, if you get some of that land in the mountain, I’ll relinquish from Moapa and go over there,” because of my grandfather being there.



RM: Is there anything else we should talk about?



LM: I think we should talk about the reservation here, life itself. We had an agent. The last one that I remember was the Davidson family, but before that there were others. There was one that my mom used to talk about, Harvey Pocock. He evidently married a local girl, one of the Perkins family. I think their families prospered with what was coming to our people. You hear stories about some unscrupulous things.



RM: Oh, they prospered under the table.



LM: Yes. There were jobs here. I can remember my aunt saying when war broke out some of the women took over the chores that the men had had. My aunt says she remembers bailing hay and that’s when they used the three-wire bails.

But it was a big to-do; it employed the men. My dad drove tractors and he learned every part of it—mechanics. Across where the police department was they had their maintenance shop for the implements and tractors and so on, and near it they had the big fenced area where they’d bring in their alfalfa bales. And down below, almost where the Christian church is, there was a granary so they’d stack it over there, too. My mom said they were coming in 24 hours a day to get the hay, which was top-grade hay. In the olden times our people knew that you had to get up and work from sun-up to sundown. Nowadays our kids just work 9:00 to 5:00.

It’s changed. We don’t have the trees like we used to; we have a little bit of freedom but not the best because of the cars and what not. Weekends are bad.



RM: A lot of traffic?



LM: Yes. And our people are different now; we never had to lock our doors before but we do now. It’s sad to say it has turned out that way. In the past, people used to care and share but you don’t see that so much now; it’s a sad situation.



RM: How do you see the future of Paiute culture?



LM: If it’s not recorded or told, there won’t be any more. There’ll just be Indian people without their stories.



RM: Do you know all of the Salt Songs?



LM: No, but I know there’s quite a few; it starts at 7:00 and goes to around 4:00 or 5:00, when the morning star comes out. That’s supposed to officially end the ceremony.



RM: Do they repeat?



LM: Some of them are repeats.



RM: Are they properly recorded, the Salt Songs?



LM: As far as I know, yes. There’s a program out of San Francisco that did it.



RM: How about the Bird Songs—are they recorded?



LM: Yes, I think it’s starting to get recorded. There was a gentleman in the Walapai Tribe that made a recording of it. You can understand that the melody, or the beat, is the same and the words are a little bit different.



RM: So you feel it’s vital to record these things for the preservation of the culture.



LM: Yes. And I think that people are starting to realize that we’re not the fancy show-off type. I said, “Whatever we did was very basic; our clothes we wore, especially when your family member died. . . .” As I said, the women had to cut their hair to shoulder length and they wore drab-colored clothes for a year. That was the year that you’d mourn. Once that was over—and it didn’t have to be on the anniversary of their death—you’d have the memorial ceremony where you’d do your giveaways. Clarabelle says at their giveaways in Pahrump, they didn’t give out gifts. Whatever you brought that was new, they burned; but here, we give away things.



RM: The deceased’s things?



LM: No, we buy things in the memory of our loved one and at the end of the ceremony you give them out to friends. It runs into a lot of money, but we do it.



RM: Is there anything else you think we should cover?



LM: There are things that I know culturally that are for women. When you go through childbirth, for instance, there are dos and don’ts. You’re not supposed to scratch your hair with your fingernails—they carve you a stick. When a young girl comes into her puberty age, the grandmother takes care of her and she kind of stays away from the family. She has to keep busy—she has to be up early in the morning before sunrise and she has to be busy all day long. Your first menses, your grandmother took you to the river and bathed you.

I don’t know about the boys. The only thing I know about the boy is that their first kill as hunters, they give it to the elders.

And people experiencing childbirth had a midwife who helped with it. I think three or four women helped with the birthing. They built a fire and in that fire they put rocks and once those rocks are hot they covered it with sand and they spread a mat down for you to sit on. That was for after the birth. There were a lot of rituals that they went through.

RM: I don’t know if you would want to talk about this, but basically the Christians that came in here were pretty uptight about sex. Did the Paiutes have a more natural approach to sex, or how did they look it?



LM: I think it all depends on your teachings. I know some of the girls married young.



RM: What do you mean by young?



LM: I would say in their teenage years, younger than 16. I don’t know if marriage was arranged by families like it was in some tribes.



RM: Did they want to stay within the band, the boy or the girl, or did it matter if they went to another band?



LM: As long as you weren’t related, you could, but it was hard because everybody was related. Moapa, the reservation, was created in 1876 for all the Southern Paiute. They were supposed to be out here, but when you’re not used to the area, you’re going to do everything to go back to where you were.



RM: Because the area is very diverse, isn’t it? All the way from Cedar to this.



LM: Yes. I think it was hard for them to adapt so they went back to what they knew.



RM: In the culture did the male kind of run things and the woman had to do what he said or was it pretty equal?



LM: I think the man was more or less the dominant one in the past, but now I think the women are more in charge.



RM: What caused that change?



LM: I think it was the way you were brought up. Now we have people that don’t really retain their culture and tradition because they haven’t been taught. It’s just like a learning cycle—I always say you’re the best teacher of your child and then as you go on you trust them to the education system.



RM: You’re very big on the teaching part, aren’t you, with the kids?



LM: Yes, it has to be told. I always say that a lot of the kids don’t realize until it’s too late the consequences of their actions. I say, “I’m a believer that if you do wrong, you need to repent.” Because if I just tell you, “Oh, that’s okay,” and give you a slap on the back and say, “don’t do it again,” you’re going to do it again. But if there are consequences to pay, then you learn.

“Yeah, she was so mean, she scared the daylights out of me. I’d better behave myself. If I look at her cross-eyed she’s going to know I did something wrong already.” I’m a believer that you need to teach and tell people, and kids. Kids learn well if you start when they’re young.



RM: What’s your most important memory?



LM: I think my most important memory is growing up here with my mother and my aunt and grandmother because later on in life they were all head of the household. We were always a close-knit family. I was just telling my kids, “For Thanksgiving, we always got together, we came over, and it was a good time.” I can remember when our moms would tell us, “Women don’t wear jeans to the table, you have to wear a dress or a skirt,” and we had to eat on plates. Nowadays we eat on plastic or paper plates and dress the way we want. We got together on this Thanksgiving and had a good time, ate until we were full and then sat around and talked about our past or our children.

It’s nice to be close knit and there are some families that don’t ever experience that. It’s sad when you see other people and they tell you, “You guys are always doing something together.”

I said, “Now we’re kind of losing that because of their jobs.” We used to spend holidays in the mountains or Lake Mead—go down as a big group and camp over there or we’d go to Mount Charleston around the Lee Canyon area and there’d be a campground, or go up to Cedar, by Duck Creek, and camp. Even gathering the pine nuts—we used to do it as family; we don’t do that now but we do go out. This year I didn’t get to gathering because of my commitments to these committees that I’m on.



RM: Name some of the committees you’re on, if you’d like.



LM: I’m on DOE—the Nevada Test Site. I’m on Yucca Mountain. I’m on Nellis—the training and testing have a project for Native Americans. Then I sit on the airport expansion. For years when my kids were in school I supported the Indian Education Program; I sat on that. And before I had my children I worked in Head Start for Native Americans as a teacher’s aide; that’s how I got to know a lot of people. And I do a lot of speaking for the cultural part. If you go to the Springs Preserve; you can hear my voice there.



RM: Oh, the Las Vegas Springs? So you’re very involved making the Native American perspective known for this area.



LM: Yes. We did the video for the Yucca Mountain Indian perspective. There’s the Las Vegas tribe and I am doing the Moapa part; it took an award. I never got to see the award, though; I was told we might get the replica of a bronze quill or something.



RM: Where can a person get a copy of that video?



LM: I can get you copies of the Yucca Mountain perspective; I can get you Nellis pine nut gathering. I can even get the Salt Song.



RM: That would be great. Thanks so much for talking with me.





INDEX


A

air force program,

airport expansion committee,

Anaconda Corporation, Tecopa, California,

ancestral lands, boundaries of

Anderson, Billy

Anderson, Gertrude,

Anderson, Raymond,

Anderson Dairy

archaeological sites and burial caves,

Arnold, Richard,

artifacts and burial caves, stealing from

Ash Meadows,



B

Banning, California,

basket weaving,

Beck, Annie

Benn, Irene,

BIA. See Bureau of Indian Affairs

bighorn sheep as Paiute logo,

Bird Songs

Bishop, Archie,

Bishop, Joe,

boarding schools, Indian,

Brown, Dora Lee (Lalovi Miller’s great-aunt),

Brown family,

Bunkerville (Brush) Mountain

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA),

Bureau of Land Management (BLalovi Miller),

burial caves and archaeological sites



C

Caliente, Nevada cave,

Cathedral Canyon,

ceremonial area, Moapa,

Chappo, Indian (Lalovi Miller’s grandfather),

Chappo, Maggie (Lalovi Miller’s grandmother)

basket weaving

and community care for deceased’s family,

food / food preparation,

Lalovi Miller stayed within Moapa

raised grandson Raymond Anderson,

summers in Moapa with,

Chappo, Verma (Lalovi Miller’s mother

Chemehuevi Indians,

child birthing beliefs and practices

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC),

competitive social dancing,

Coyote stories,

Creator

Cruz, Jim,

culture, preservation of

intermarriage,

spirits / spirit world

teaching children,

curses, retaliations and spells



D

dace (endangered fish),

daughter of Lalovi Miller,

Davidson family (agents),

Department of Energy (DOE),

desert survival,

Devil’s Claw and basket weaving

DOE. See Department of Energy

dosimeter badges,

Dry Lake, Nevada,

Duckwater Shoshones,



E

eagle in Paiute lore,

Earth as mother, provider,

education support center, Moapa,

Ely Shoshone,

energy generation methods,

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS



F

farm work by Paiutes

Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas,

food / food preparation

dried fruits on roof,

drying corn,

food preservation,

gardens

hunting game,

making jerky

mesquite beans, candy,

pine nuts,

salt grinding stone,

Four Mile Brothel, Las Vegas

Fowler, Kay,

Fremont Street

funerals

Big Time, Cry,

Bird Songs,

community caring for deceased’s family,

at Indian boarding schools,

Salt Song ceremony,

and skeletal remains,



G

game hunting,

government involvement with Indians,

Grant, Ulysses S. and Moapa Reservation,



H

Hanks family,

harvest festival,

Head Start,

healing events,

heat in summertime

Hidden Hills

Highway

Home Ranch, Warm Springs, Nevada,

homesteading

horse and buggy travel in desert,

horseback riding,

hotels in old Las Vegas,

hunting game,



I

Indian Education Program,

Indian Health Service,

Indian hospital, Schurz, Nevada,

Indian spinach (princess plume),

Indians

agents for,

community resources, sharing of

government involvement with,

and Medicare,

military service, attitudes about,

and Nevada Test Site, working on,

segregated by white government,

See also individual tribes

indoor plumbing, Moapa,

insect repellents,

intermarriage,

Irene Benn Clinic, Moapa,



J

jerky, venison,

Jim, Clarabelle

book on Native medicines

connections to Pahrump, Tehachapi

and Four Mile Brothel

as historian, Paiute language consultant,

North Star story,

related to Lalovi Miller paternally,

Jim, Long,

Jim family,

junta (juncas) grass and basket weaving,



K

Kanosh, Utah Paiute reservation,

Kelly, Isabel,

Kingston Mountains

Kinlichinie, Juanita



L

lactose intolerance in Indians,

Lake Mead,

language

Chemehuevi, Paiute language relationship,

language class,

recording language

syntax compared to English

youth losing ability to speak,

LaRusso, Dr., in Overton, Las Vegas,

Las Vegas Boulevard

Las Vegas, Nevada,

Latter Day Saints church,

Lay, Bob (Lalovi Miller’s father) (aka Bob Lee

Lee, Bob Sr. (Old Man Bob Lee) (Lalovi Miller’s grandfather

Lee, Cub,

Lee, John (Lalovi Miller’s brother

Lee, Lalovi. See Miller, Lalovi Sonya (Lee)

Lee, Leander,

Lee, Louella (Lalovi Miller’s sister Lee, Phi (Lalovi Miller’s great-grandfather),

Lee, R.C.

Leland (Lalovi Miller’s nephew),

Logan, Clara,

Lost City Museum, Overton, Nevada



M

medical care,

medicine, Native American

medicine men (Native healers

Mercury, Nevada,

Mesquite, Nevada,

mesquite beans, candy,

milk, Indians’ ability to drink

Milky Way,

Miller, Lalovi Sonya (Lee)

archeology work,

birth

breast cancer,

committees serving / served on

as cultural representative,

culture, preservation of

family holidays

gallbladder attack

heat, dealing with as child

and Indian Health Service,

junior high school in Overton,

and Kyle Canyon project,

as language consultant,

living at Noonday Mine mill

milk, ability to drink

and Nevada Test Site,

and Salt Song ceremony,

summer, moving outdoors in,

as tribal council member,

mining

Anaconda Corporation, Tecopa, California, 3

Noonday Mine,

Moapa, Nevada

community sharing,

grade school at,

heat in summertime,

Lalovi Miller moved to from Tecopa,

Lalovi Miller spent summers in as child,

Lalovi Miller’s childhood home in

meaning of Moapa,

Paiute reservation,

socializing customs, changes in,

town disappeared

Moapa Indian Reservation

creation in 1876,

Indian agents on,

population,

pronunciation and meaning,

size of,

Mormon Church,

Mount Charleston

mountain sumac and basket weaving

mourning, year of,

Muddy River,



N

Native American medicine

Native Americans. See Indians; specific tribes

Native healers (medicine men),

near-death experience

Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada,

Nevada Test Site

archaeological work on,

Lalovi Miller as cultural representative,

Lalovi Miller’s opinions about,

and nuclear testing era,

Paiutes employed at

and Shoshone Indians,

and tritium contamination,

underground testing,

wind turbines proposed,

Noonday Mine

nuclear issues,

Nuclear Risk Management Program for Native Americans



O

Ocean Woman story,

Overton, Nevada

birthplace of Lalovi Miller,

junior high school in,

Owens Valley Paiutes, 30



P

Pagroonsie (elderly lady in Moapa

Pahrump, Nevada,

Pahrump Paiutes,

Paiute Indians

agriculture

ancestral lands, boundaries of

bighorn sheep logo

and the Bureau of Indian Affairs

burial practices,

culture, preservation of,

history,

identification by areas

intermarriage

Kanosh, Utah reservation

language,

Las Vegas colony,

and Las Vegas growth,

marriage and sexual practices,

men, cultural beliefs for,

milk, ability to drink

and Nevada Test Site,

Owens Valley Paiutes,

Pahrump Paiutes,

“people of the beans,”

purity of bloodlines, 47

respect for artifacts and skeletal remains,

Southern Paiutes,

Spanish Army, war with,

springs, always lived by

teaching children, 4

tribal government,

women, cultural beliefs for,

world, life view,

Paiute language,

Parker, Arizona

Perkins, Chic,

Perkins, Dale,

Perkins, Lawrence

Perkins, Mort,

Perkins family

Pikyavit, Everett,

pine nuts,

Pioche, Nevada,

Pocock, Harvey,

Potato Woman story,

princess plume (Indian spinach),



R

radiation damage from nuclear testing,

Rassen, Father (Episcopal priest),

rattlesnakes and storytelling restrictions,

Red Rock bear story,

renewable energy sources,

renumeration for radiation damage,

Round Dance story,



S

Sackett family

Salt Song ceremony

in funerals,

Lalovi Miller learning,

recordings

and skeletal remains,

in suicides, strictures against

schools

grade school, Moapa,

Indian boarding schools,

junior high school in Overton

Segundo, Clara (Lalovi Miller’s cousin),

Segundo, Dorothy (Lalovi Miller’s cousin),

Segundo, Emma (Lalovi Miller’s aunt),

shade sheds,

shamans,

Sharp family,

Sherman Boarding School, Riverside, California,

Shivwits, Utah,

Shoshone Indians

ancestral lands shared with Paiutes,

Duckwater Shoshone,

Ely Shoshone,

Western Shoshones,

Yomba Shoshone,

skeletal remains,

solar energy

Southern Paiutes

Southwest Indian Mission Reservation

Spanish Army, war with,

spells, curses and retaliations,

spirits / spirit world,

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church,

Standing Rock story,

stealing artifacts,

Steve, Charlie,

Steve, Minnie (Lalovi Miller’s grandmother),

Stewart, Helen J.,

Stewart Indian School, Carson City, Nevada,

stories

Coyote stories,

creation stories,

eagle’s shadow story,

Mount Charleston baldness story,

Ocean Woman story,

as part of culture,

Potato Woman story,

Red Rock bear story,

roadrunner stories,

Round Dance story,

seasonal storytelling restrictions,

Standing Rock story,

subwriters (for DOE

suicide and Salt Songs, Bird Song,

survival, desert

Swain, Francis (Lalovi Miller’s uncle),

Swain, Topsy (Chappo) (Lalovi Miller’s aunt

swimming



T

Taylor, Barbara

Taylor, Francis,

Tecopa, California,

Tehachapi, California,

Tom, Helen

tour of area,

tribal council

tritium contamination,



U

underground nuclear testing,

University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (UMC),

University of Nevada, Reno,

Utah Hill



V

Valley of Fire,

videos with Indian involvement,

Vocational Rehab building, Moapa,



W

Walapai Indians

War Mountain

Warm Springs, Nevada

area employers,

cattle ranch,

growth from Nevada Power plant

housing development

swimming pools,

water

CCC dam

cleanliness of,

from ditch for Moapa homes,

flooding,

Hidden Hills springs

Moapa Valley Water District,

Muddy River,

pipeline for Las Vegas, Nevada,

spring at Hidden Hills homestead,

tritium contamination of,

Warm Springs swimming pools,

weapons stored in cave, Caliente, Nevada,

Weed, Jeff,

Weed, Mutt,

Western Shoshones,

Whistle Mountain,

white men, Paiute view of

willow and basket weaving,

wind turbines

work ethics, then and now



Y

Yamashita Farms,

Yomba Shoshones,

yucca and basket weaving,

Yucca Mountain